Our top ten tips for a Green Christmas that should help reduce your carbon footprint, save money and leave you feeling extra good about your Eco friendly Christmas!

Recycle your unwanted presents
Unfortunately everyone receives at least one unwanted gift at Christmas.  I often receive a lot of candles, soaps, body washes etc from people who don’t really know what to buy me! (I do specifically say no gifts, but this does make some people uncomfortable!) so I recycle my unwanted presents to charities. Local hospitals and hospices are often very pleased to receive unwanted presents to give to patients. If you are able to, you can can regift to friends who may want them, or you can even try swapping presents for someone elses unwanted goods!

Give the gift of charity or environment – or just offer to help out!
You could choose to donate to that persons favourite charity or donate to an environmental organisation in their area. I find these type of gift may be perfect for a adults or people who just don’t want more things, or are hard to buy for. For children there are many animals you can sponsor through World Wildlife Foundation and they get a gift pack about the animal, certificate of sponsorship and some offer soft toys as well!  These may be more suitable for the young ones and also educational!

Try Ecards for a change
Australians send A LOT of cards every year at Christmas and according to Planet Ark, over 500 million cards were recycled in the 2003-04 period! Now that is a lot of recycling going on which is fantastic! So if you are going to receive cards or send them, make sure you do recycle them.
If you want to try a more tech savvy approach you can create your own ecards online – simply create an image in photo editing software and email it out to your friends, or even try a Christmas greeting via SMS! Update your Facebook status with jolly Christmas greetings and messages as well.

Don’t forget packaging!
When shopping around for those Christmas gifts, try to select things that have minimal packaging. Avoid toys, electronics and other items that have layers of un-recyclable plastic. Also don’t forget when wrapping gifts to use recycled paper!

Avoid batteries
When buying gifts for people, avoiding buying things that require batteries. Batteries require huge resources to make, and a lot of people don’t have reusable batteries in their homes. Only buy these kinds of gifts if you know they have reusable batteries. I usually avoid these kinds of gifts for parents of young children since more than likely the battery is required to produce VERY annoying noises!! I know my friends are grateful to not get those toys under the tree.

Don’t leave home without your green bag!
When doing your last minute mad dash around the shops, make sure you take your green bags with you! Opt for your reusable bags instead of trying to lug 10 different plastic shopping bags around with you! Most stores offer a reusable bag with purchase for a small fee if you have forgotten yours at home or in the car – so make use of it!

Light up the nights
Avoid using conventional candles – the paraffin ones. These are made from petroleum residues and don’t do your health or the environment any good at all. Try to find soy based alternatives or beeswax versions! You can easily make these at home and can find many good recipes online, or you can purchase online from either Dusk or The Body Shop or hunt around on Etsy.

Deck your halls with REAL holly!
Try decorating your home with natural decorations instead of plastic tinsel and non-biodegradable garlands. You can try a range of things such as popcorn strings, ivy, seasonal berries, recyclable paper ornaments, let the kids go wild with some crayons and butchers paper for the Christmas Star on top of the tree! You can use branches of evergreen trees or even add some eucalyptus leaves and branches as table decorations. There are so many things you can use instead of store bought items – plus it gives the kids some great activities for the holidays!

Don’t forget to turn off your fairy lights
We all know about the black balloons and vampire power, so make sure you switch off your fairy lights and Christmas decorations when not at home. Turn them on when you are in the room and can enjoy the lights with your family! Hey, you can even cut down on the amount of lights and try some flickering soy candles after the kids are in bed – Christmas can be sexy too!

Christmas trees
According to Nigel of Nigels Eco Store;

If you’ve been wondering which is better, the simple answer is that real trees are the more eco friendly choice. Although artificial trees last for many years they are made from metal and derivatives of PVC, which requires large amounts of energy to make, and also creates by-products such as lead which can be harmful to both the environment and human health. The average life of an artificial tree is just 6 years and given that they are not naturally biodegradable they will potentially pollute a landfill site for many years to come. Most artificial trees sold in the UK are made in Taiwan and China and so have additional energy costs associated with transport. Real trees are carbon neutral, absorbing as much carbon dioxide as they grow as they will emit when burnt or left to decompose. They are also a wildlife habitat and a naturally renewable resource, and generally feel much nicer in your home. They can be planted in your garden after Christmas, and even used again next year.

So this year choose a tree with roots so it can be replanted. If replanting isn’t an option most local councils run Christmas tree recycling schemes.  You could also start growing your own Christmas tree if you have the space in your garden. I do remember vividly of Christmas time spent next to our real tree with my family. The smell is amazing and I remember taking the little tree to the garden and planting it with my mum after we had taken all the decorations off!

So have a merry and safe Christmas with your loved ones!

Images by pitrih

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