The holiday season traditionally brings about many things; family, a full table of food, new things, wrapping paper strewn across the floor, laughter, the list goes on. A time to be grateful and celebrate, and for some, a time to reflect on how to live more consciously.

Each Christmas, 125,000 tonnes of plastic packaging is thrown away. 13,250 tonnes of glass waste is discarded at the same time, and Christmas wrapping paper waste reaches 277,000 miles, which is enough to wrap around the equator nine times.

These disposal problems have an increased strain on landfills and recycling facilities, and consequently CO2 emissions. As Ground Sure notes, prevention is the key to avoiding these economic, social and environmental costs.

4 Simple Changes You Can Make to Have a Zero Waste Christmas

Dining Table

Every Christmas, two million turkeys are thrown away as food waste. Similarly, 230,000 tonnes of festive food will be discarded. Freezing and reusing leftovers is an important way to combat this. Notably, a vegan diet has half the carbon footprint of a meat diet.


Consider making or buying Christmas stockings, rather than using wrapping paper. Otherwise, newspaper, reusable bags, and recycled shirts are creative ways to wrap gifts. If you are given wrapping paper, you can keep it to protect fragile items while packing. It can also be used to clean windows and mirrors!

It’s estimated that one billion Christmas cards are thrown away each year. Sending an e-Christmas card is one alternative, or make your own.

Additionally, LED lights in trees are a great way to reduce power use.

Gifts to Give and Ask For

Your family or friends could hold a Secret Santa to reduce waste and save money.
Additionally, here is a list of gift ideas to avoid waste this Christmas:

Pre-loved clothing
A Kindle
Plants or seeds
Homemade food (jams, cookies etc.)
Vouchers for a store of their choosing
Donate to a charity on their behalf
Slow cooker
Make toiletries such as lip balm and dry shampoo and gift in a mason jar
A homemade gift or letter
Packaging free toiletries
Kit to brew wine or beer
Household items to reduce waste (lunch box, glass straws, hot water bottle, flask, jars, Tupperware etc.)
Items for their hobbies e.g. bike supplies, guitar strings, knitting needles, gardening tools
Second-hand anything!

Memories Over Materials

A great alternative to giving a material gift is to give the gift of an experience. It might be a special day out, a voucher, or booked classes to learn something new like a language, cooking or an instrument. Theme parks, hikes, sporting events, spa treatments, tickets, visit an art gallery or rock climbing are all unique ideas that the receiver will appreciate and remember.