Saturday, 8 December 2012

Have Yourself a Very Green Christmas Time

It's Christmas time again! The time of year we spend with family, go on holidays and enjoy creating a feast.

It is also a time where we can get carried away with gift giving, over spend and create more waste than what we do during the whole year. 

This article is about keeping things clean and green during the Christmas period. If you have done your best this year to be sustainable don't give in now, keep it up by following these simple ideas.

By keeping with the clean green theme you can get rewarded with
  • Saving money
  • Doing your part for the environment
  • Supporting local business
  • Reducing stress 
  • and more

The best part is that it is very simple to keep things clean and green, read on to learn how. 

Christmas Trees

There always seems to be a debate about a real tree verses a fake tree and the choice is always yours. Here are some pros and cons also some christmas tree alternatives.

Fake Trees- Pros
Last longer
Can be stored for easy use
Come in various colours 

Does not break down in the environment
Most cannot be recycled
Fade and lose colour over time
Has no smell

Real Trees- Pros
Smell wonderful
Come in many shapes and sizes
Pine needles can be kept for use in the garden (keeps away the snails)
Wood can be chipped and used in the garden as mulch

Don't last
Dried trees left out in the garden become fire hazards
Most people don't think to recycle them after use
Can cause allergies in some people with asthma (we have this issue with our son)
Costs money every year

  • Use real potted trees that you can put out in the garden after the Christmas period. If you keep them trimmed you can easily bring it back inside for next year
  • Use other plants and natives that you can put out in the garden after Christmas
  • Decorate trees that are already in your garden and get your family to gather around there for gift giving
  • Use old branches and twigs, cardboard, books and other items to make your own Christmas tree. There are plenty of ideas on the internet these days so search to get some creative ideas  


Cards & Gift Wrap

It is always fun to check your letter box and find something in there for yourself other than a bill but there does bring with it a downside- Waste! Millions of people buy and send cards this time of year so can you imagine all the cards that end up in the bin. If they are not printed on recyclable paper or with eco friendly materials and inks, they end up in landfill. It's the same story for gift wrap so to balance things out follow these simple ideas.
  • Send e-cards
  • Reuse cards from last year to make new ones or turn them into post cards
  • Make a Christmas power point presentation with photos and music that you can send by email 
  • Use fabric to wrap presents, fabric can be kept for other gifts during the year or to be used as a rag
  • Use brown paper, children's paintings, paper that is used to wrap cold meat from the deli, extra fish and chip paper to decorate and wrap gifts
  • Tie presents with cotton or string. By not using tape the paper can be used again as well as the string. Cotton string can be chopped and put into compost
  • Make gift tags from old Christmas cards
  • Wrap presents within a present- Use a t-shirt to wrap other gifts
  • Use wooden boxes that can be kept for other things around the home
  • Reuse gift bags that you have
  • Use no wrapping paper. With children you can hide their presents with a map to help find them.  

Tip- If you buy flowers for your home regulary tell the florist they are for a gift and they will wrap them in decorative paper. When you get home unwrap the flowers and you have yourself some free decorative paper that is perfect to use as gift wrap.


For one month in the year we can get in the Christmas spirit and decorate the home to make it a festive occasion. This can be fun as you get to use your creativity and most children enjoy this part so it can become a family ritual. To save yourself some money in this area follow these decorative ideas.
  • Make your own with recycled materials
  • Use fabric table cloths and napkins
  • Use long lasting candles for natural light both indoors and outdoors
  • Purchase long lasting decorations that are hard to break or can be recycled when you choose to dispose of them
  • Use solar powered lights to decorate the exterior of your home. Make sure you don't leave them on all night
  • Use power saving devices for indoor lights
  • Swap to green power. You can choose a small percentage or go all the way and choose 100% green power


Shopping & Gifts

Christmas time is not all about the gifts but gifts tend to play a big role this time of year. For most children gifts are the best part and a cheeky way to keep them inline (santa won't bring gifts if you misbehave)  

Some simple questions to ask yourself before you buy or make a Christmas gift

Will the person use or appreciate the gift?
Will this gift last or can it be used over and over again?
Where will this gift end up when used or disposed of?
Are there any cheaper, good quality alternatives?
Is this gift safe? No chemicals
Where has this gift come from? Is it made by fair trade? Is it natural? Were animals hurt in the process?
Electronics- Are they energy efficient and upgradable?  

Tip- Remember to take your reusable shopping bags with you when you go out to shop 

Green Gift Ideas
  • Gift vouchers for services
  • Donations on the persons behalf
  • Cook your own goods for gifts using safe ingredients
  • Plants, vegetable and herbs
  • Compost bins or worm farms
  • Raised vegetable box or pots
  • Reusable travel mugs
  • Natural skincare pack that you can make and package yourself using safe ingredients and recycled packaging
  • Green cleaning packs that you can make yourself 
  • Gift baskets with decent goods from thrift stores
  • Restore yourself house items from thrift stores

Another alternative that you can use at home, at work, school and kinda is to have set guidelines for gifts. This can be great to start for a Kris Kringle but most of all have fun.
  • Have a set price to spend on the gift
  • Make sure the gift is eco friendly, fair trade and free from chemicals
  • Food- Natural, organic and from local business
  • Can be handmade from recycled goods
  • Items that can be used over and over again or energy efficient, upgradable electronics


Food & Drinks

Chrismas is the time of year that family gets together to share a big wonderful feast. Sitting around the table talking, sharing stories, recipe tips and jokes are one of my favorite parts of Christmas, as well as the good food! When planning this marvelous feast most of us tend to make sure we have too much food as opposed to not enough to fill everyone up and this is where we can create a heap of waste. It is also a good opportunity to find out where your food has come from or how it has been processed. If you choose healthy organic produce you not only offer a feast but you give your guests good health.

Some simple questions to ask yourself when choosing food and drinks for your feast

  • How many will be attending?
  • Are there any people with allergies or vegan/vegetarian
  • Is this food free range and organic?
  • Is this food from local business?
  • What food scraps can be recycled?
  • Are there healthy recipe options?

Table Setting
  • Use your good dinnerware as opposed to plastic or disposable dinnerware. This is one time of the year to break out and enjoy your good dinnerware as it is a special occaion
  • Use fabric table cloths and napkins (soak after the feast)
  • Decorate the centre of your table with plant clippings or produce from your garden 
  • Use long lasting candles for natural light

  • Have recycle bins ready and a container for compost scraps
  • Use biodegradable bin bags
  • Use green cleaning recipes to clean up before and after
  • Do one full load of dishes in the dishwasher or fill sink during cooking and wash as you go then again after the feast
  • Use caught excess water to rinse your dishes

Bonus Tip- Have people over on boxing day to eat all the leftover food. 

Christmas Parties 

If you plan to have any Christmas parties there are some extra things to think about other than the ideas above but don't stress, they are simple!

  • Make invites out of recycled materials, email invites or simply use the phone
  • See if guests can car pool or catch transport
  • Weather permitting- Take the party outdoors
  • Make the party in a central location so guests will not have to travel far 
  • Again have recycle bins easy to access


Christmas is a time that most people plan to travel or go on day trips, it's some extra fun that you get to have at this time of year. With some proper planning you can make your trips clean and green just follow these simple guidelines

  • Look for eco friendly sustainable accommodation
  • Car pool with friends for a day trip
  • Use public transport where you can
  • Walk or ride a bike to reach your destination, your health will benefit
  • Service your car and make sure you have correct air pressure in tyres
  • Visit local parks, gardens and animal sanctuaries to get your dose of nature
  • Let friends or family know of your travel plans
  • Plan to have friends or family take care of your pets and plants while on holiday or book animals into pet accommodation
  • Give your plants a huge water before or leave in them in the bath tub while you are away


New Years Resolutions

Some people set new years resolution and some don't, whatever strikes your fancy but it's a time of year to take note of your accomplishments, reflect back on learning's and set some new goals. I know many people who don't stick to their plans so don't dispare if this is you, you are not alone.  

The end of one year and the beginning of another is a perfect time to set some sustainable goals if you have not already done so. Working on your health both inside and out is a great goal to move towards and practicing sustainable ideas and options take care of this. By taking care of yourself you take care of the environment and visa versa so if the green life is still just an idea in your head make it real by giving it your best next year. 

Here are some sustainable goal ideas
  • Have a sustainability assessment of your home and business
  • Do a DIY sustainability assessment
  • Choose green power
  • Purchase energy efficient electronics
  • Go solar power
  • Start a garden and make your own pest control
  • Connect with nature more often
  • Clean with natural products you can make yourself
  • Make your own skincare
  • Give your home a detox
  • Establish a green team at work
There are many ways to reach your sustainable goals but most of all educate yourself with sustainable solutions so you can reach them faster. Keep an eye out in 2013 as we are preparing a Sustain Your Life online course that will cover most, if not all, aspects of life. Meanwhile read our many articles, download our free content and take action!

We would love to hear from you so if you have any extra ideas or green gift ideas feel free to share them here so many more people can benefit. We wish you all a very merry (and green) Christmas time.

Thank You For Reading

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