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Eco-Friendly Christmas Ideas

Posted by Pawan Saunya on

To Tree or Not to Tree: Eco-Friendly Christmas Ideas

Christmas is my favourite time of year, everyone gets a ‘go’ – way better than a birthday, when it’s just one person’s turn. Can you tell I grew up with three sisters and I still find it hard to share?!

It is a time of indulgence; joy, presents, laughter, gathering, eating. It is also a busy time of year; planning, thinking, buying, making, wrapping, cooking. 

We can’t do anymore. Fact. So let’s embrace the idea that less (and eco-friendly) is more.

I don’t think green should be obscene either, not in taste or in price.  There is no need to sacrifice aesthetics for ethics, I believe it’s called eco-chic. Embrace it.

Taking the tree as our starting point, how can we zero the waste with little to zero effort? To misquote, dream a little green with me!   

Real vs Fake

The 8 million Christmas trees that people have bought specifically for the holiday season in the UK will result in 12,000 tonnes of total waste.

If you already own a plastic tree, I beg of you, use your tree, use it until it’s on its last legs and then consider a more sustainable option in the future.  So for this year, for you, no need for any more effort.

Natural Tree Buyers- buy local.  Crucially, dispose of it correctly, chat up your local council to collect it.  Don’t send it to landfill. Trees will be used as chippings for local parks and walkways.

And what are the alternatives to both natural and fake trees?  Super cool, crafty, creative trees. Book Trees. Step Ladders with lights and Baubles.  Recycled cardboard Trees. 

Guaranteed you have books.  Likely you have a ladder. You probably have the internet.  Any option means at most you have to walk to the storage and at best, you can order from your sofa.  If you are ordering online, please consider the packaging and order everything you need from a few shops to save postage. 

Here are just 3 ideas but there are many more out there!

Screenshot 2019-12-04 at 10.58.37.PNG

Image credits, Studio Roof, Casa Diseno.

To Tree Part 2: Decorations

My guess is you have decorations already.  If not, buy local.  Saves petrol, saves time, supports small businesses.  Buy plastic free decorations- remember eco-chic. This will make your tree look classier, I promise. 

Wooden decorations may cost more than plastic but in the manner of saving money, buy less- no one wants an overladen tree. 

I know, I know, don’t get your tinsel in a twist, I promised zero extra effort, so stick up your hand and ask your child, mother, neighbor, partner to make some decorations!   Store them carefully and you won’t even need to ask next year!  Here are some DIY decoration ideas from Zero Waste Club:

To Tree Part Three: Presents

This is a great subject because I love presents. I love the thought that goes into presents.  Genuinely, the thought counts because I will otherwise judge you. From on high. Mercilessly.  In the way that the spirit of Christmas condemns. I don’t need them to be expensive, even the wrapping can be thoughtful, and thought is free! 

I am also excellent at giving presents. It’s a rare gift- all puns intended.

So what does a plastic free present look like?  Does it have to be a “thing” – might you consider a non-object?

Experiences: My favourite gift that keeps on giving. Anticipation, enjoyment and a memory.  Theatre, ice skating, puppet show, circus, concert, supper, the zoo.  Make it age appropriate and go! 

Charity: Donate to a charity of someone’s choice. Buy a present that donates profit to a charity.  We love these Polar Circles that give 20% profit to Marine Conservation Society.

Gift of Time: Offer to babysit / dog walk / fill a freezer. If someone did all three things for me, I might marry them!

For children: Pause and step away from the Legos.  What other materials could there possibly be other than plastic?   Wood, bamboo, felt, sugar cane, or metal. PomPom makes sugarcane building blocks that look like Lego, build like Lego, and are compatible with Duplo. 


Image credit, Eilidh, Mummy and Monkeys

It’s a wrap.

This year in the UK alone over 200,000 miles of wrapping paper will be thrown away.  Greenpeace also found that 1kg of wrapping paper emits 3.5kg of CO2 during production. Plus, lots of wrapping paper is lined with foil or glitter making it unrecyclable, not to mention the plastic tape that is used to keep the wrapping in tact.

The route with least resistance is newspaper.  Assuming you still buy the weekend papers and it’s not online and Sunday night remains sacred, use them.  That’s what the sports section is for! 

If you have to buy paper, buy brown recycled paper. Shabby-chic is in and you heard here first!   Tie with raffia string, tuck a little posy of lavender or rosemary in the top.  So pretty (and thoughtful and cheap).  Use last year’s Christmas cards as label tags.

Oh, but you don’t want to leave the house to buy supplies? No problem.  We look East to Furoshiki, the Japanese art of wrapping presents.  You can use any scarf, any swaddle and possibly even a tea towel that you have lying around.  Don’t miss this fantastic video created by Emily Dawe.

You want glitter? No problem- buy plastic free glitter!  Dust your wrapping and frost yourself.   And for those you like least, don’t be frugal, it’s impossible to hoover!


Cecily Henderson

is one half of PomPom – a trailblazing website for imaginative plastic free designs for children, from product to packaging. Katherine and Cecily are old friends, they met at university, trotting late to lectures and much too late home. They shared hopes, lectures and Ribena. They have a collective love of travel, books, theatre, art, design, the environment and now, children. They are imperfectly green. Katherine has two small girls and Cecily two small boys, one of which arrives imminently. Sounds more like a matchmaking service than a business venture to me!.


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