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8 Easy Ways to Have an Eco-Friendly Christmas

Celebrating an eco-friendly Christmas is easier than you think. Here's the inside scoop on low-waste holiday decor, sustainable gifting, and more.

eco-friendly christmas
Written by
Brightly Staff
It seems like as soon as
is over, we're all ready to blast some Mariah Carey. But cheery music aside, Christmas has a huge carbon footprint.
Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, Americans toss out 
25% more trash
than the rest of the year. But not even
, where 200 million pounds of turkey go into the trash, can compete with Christmas. Between the food waste, packaging,
wrapping paper
, and
greeting cards
, we throw away more trash on Christmas than at any other time of year.
Just because we've been wasteful in previous years doesn't mean we have to continue the trend. Instead, take a look at these super easy tips for having an eco-friendly Christmas.

8 Ways to Have an Eco-Friendly Christmas

1. Wrap Gifts Using Newspaper or Reusable Cloth Wrapping Paper

eco friendly christmas
Wrapping paper is
notoriously hard (if not impossible) to recycle
. Even though the glossy paper looks amazing, most of it ends up in the landfill. To reduce waste, opt for
eco-friendly gift wrapping
options like newspaper. That way, it can easily get recycled or composted afterward.
Or, even better, skip the paper altogether and opt for
reusable cloth wrapping paper
. There are so many different patterns to choose from, as well as wrapping techniques.

2. Choose Secondhand Decor

eco-friendly christmas
If you go into a
thrift store
consignment shop
right now, you're bound to notice an impressive holiday season filled with beautiful decor from recent years and years past. (Hello, gorgeous
Thrifting for holiday decor isn't just a more sustainable option than buying new. It also makes your space unique! No one will have the same wreath, ornaments, and table settings as you.

3. DIY What You Can

eco-friendly christmas
projects come in handy around Christmas. Not just for saving some money and upcycling what you already have, but also because it's super satisfying knowing you made something yourself.
If you're crafty, this is your time to shine! Homemade gifts like pillowcases, coasters, and
tote bags
all make for great Christmas presents. There are also plenty of projects for DIY newbies, like making your own
DIY Christmas ornaments
out of pinecones or dehydrated orange slices.

4. Give Sustainable Gifts (Including Experiences!)

Sustainable gifting is a huge part of having an eco-friendly Christmas. Luckily, it's not hard to find something perfect for your loved ones and the planet.
There are plenty of gifts to choose from. You could opt for
top experience gifts
(like a cooking class, museum pass, or concert),
clean beauty gifts
(skincare, makeup, and beyond!),
sustainable gifts for men
(like a chef's kit), and more. There's something for everyone—even the hardest to shop for.

5. Make Plant-Based Holiday Recipes

eco-friendly christmas
meals are more eco-friendly than meals that contain meat and dairy. In fact, going vegetarian can
cut your emissions by about half
, and going vegan can cut your emissions by up to 85%. When you're deciding which
holiday recipes
to make this year, consider making some of them plant-based.
If you don't want to make a dish entirely plant-based, consider some planet-friendly swaps. Even using an alt-milk like
oat milk
instead of
dairy milk
in a recipe can decrease your overall carbon footprint over the holidays.

6. Opt for Eco-Friendly Christmas Cards

Christmas cards are an essential part of the holidays. Whether you mail cards to faraway family members or attach them to every gift you give, it's a beloved tradition. Unfortunately, it's also a wasteful one.
environmental impact of greeting cards
is a lot worse than people assume. Not only are many difficult to recycle and therefore tossed in the trash, but sending them is also an issue. The U.S. mails 1.3 billion holiday cards a year, which is the same amount of CO2 emissions as charging 22 billion smartphones or 22,000 homes’ energy use for one year.
When you're shopping for cards, look for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) logo. This means the paper was responsibly sourced. Also, look for recyclable options to help keep paper waste out of landfills. You could even gift a
, which is a greeting card and reusable Swedish dishcloth in one.

7. Choose Quality Over Quantity

Remember that
in the first Harry Potter movie where Dudley is complaining that he only received 36 presents from his parents because he received 37 presents the year prior? While humorous (and a little bit cringe),
is a huge problem in the U.S.: we're buying too much, and a lot of it goes into the trash.
If you're worried you aren't buying enough gifts this Christmas, try choosing items of quality instead of quantity. Choosing slow-produced or handmade clothing over items from
fast fashion brands
, for instance, ensures those items last for years to come.

8. Use Proper Storage Techniques

To avoid contributing to holiday waste, ensure that you're storing your decor properly between celebrations. By doing so, you're able to extend its life—which saves you money and keeps landfills a little less cluttered.
Instead of tossing everything in a box, that could look like carefully wrapping ornaments in newspaper to prevent breakage, or wrapping string lights around a piece of cardboard. Your future self will thank you.