With our tips for a sustainable Christmas celebration, you avoid unnecessary packaging waste and create space for small breaks to enjoy the pre-Christmas time with all your senses
Text by Viola Haderlein
We all wish for a merry Christmas but most of the time, the stress of Christmas sooner or later overruns us. Then, gifts are ordered online due to a lack of time, decorations with unnecessary packaging are bought and the ingredients for Christmas dinner are purchased last minute at the supermarket around the corner - because it just is so much more convenient and faster. Carelessness in the run-up to Christmas not only creates a hectic mood, but also pollutes the environment. We show how sustainable Christmas works.
10 tips for Sustainable Christmas
1. Mindful Christmas inventory
A well-thought-out Christmas countdown helps with effective planning and avoids rash last-minute purchases. Regularly schedule small time slots for preparation. During this time, you can note down all activities, gifts and necessary errands for decoration and food around Christmas.
2. Sustainable advent calendars
The chocolate advent calendar has reached its due date because of its plastic interior. There are more personal and environmentally friendly refillable calendars that are made of fabric, wood or cardboard and fill them with small sustainable surprises: Open your eyes when walking through the organic market and weekly markets. Here, you will find small organic and fair trade products for the 24 advent days. You can also fill the calendar with coupons for joint activities and motivational slogans.
3. Christmas tree alternatives
Each year, around 30 million Christmas trees are sold in Germany. 90% of them come from cultivation in Germany, mostly from Christmas tree cultures. In conventional plantations, pesticides and fertilizers are often used for rapid growth and insect infestation, harming the environment and animals. Even abroad, tree workers are often exposed to life-threatening working conditions.
For the purchase of alternative Christmas trees with a clear conscience, look for suppliers of FSC or PEFC certified trees. Also, look for regional suppliers of local firs or spruces, ask about their origin and about short transport routes. The Christmas tree alternative from organic farming can also be quickly recognized by seals of the organic farming associations: Naturland, Demeter, organic rice etc.
This year's trend: the tree in the pot. These can be rented in every city by different providers. There are Christmas tree rentals that even deliver the trees and pick them up after the celebrations. In this way, disposal is avoided, because the trees are taken out of the pot and replanted after Christmas as soon as the floor allows.
4. Natural Christmas decorations
Atmospheric Christmas decorations made of natural materials are best suited for winter, when we can bring nature home. On the next walk, collect branches, berries, pine cones and use them for Advent wreaths. In addition, traditionally reusable tree decorations are preferred. Glass balls, wooden decorations, painted ceramics or hand-made tree decorations, such as traditional straw stars, enhance every Christmas tree.
For lighting, it is better to use environmentally friendly LED string lights. If you prefer classic candles, you should look for certified organic candles that are made of beeswax or soybeans and not of environmentally harmful paraffin or stearin, whose raw materials are petroleum or palm oil.
5. Sustainable gift ideas
Giving presents is pleasure; even more so, if the recipient knows that the gift also benefits a social purpose. And again, even better, if there is a story to tell behind every present. There are many ways to find meaningful Christmas gifts. Take advantage of the offer of local shops that sell fairly traded products.
Pay attention to the least possible packaging and to the fact that it can be comprehended, where and under what conditions the products were manufactured. Do not just check sustainable online shops for eco-friendly packaging and CO2 shipping options. Alternatively, you can make zero-waste gifts yourself, such as DIY cosmetics.
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7. Gifts for sustainable Christmas
In order to avoid the typical piles of rubbish from gift wrap after Christmas, you should avoid gift wrapping with paint or metal surfaces. Always keep used wrapping paper for reuse. Recycled paper or wrapping paper from environmentally friendly sources are pretty alternatives that can also be wrapped with colored cotton cords, twine and fir branches in a decorative way.
Also, instead of plastic tape, use paper-based alternatives or masking tape. It is also nice to use reusable packaging for your gifts. For example, paper boxes or beautiful cloth towels are pretty and reusable ways to wrap up your gifts.
8. Christmas dinner: healthy and enough for everyone
To prevent unnecessary food leftovers after the Christmas feast, plan the Christmas shopping and feasting ahead and resource-saving. If it's a goose, make sure it's from certified organic origin. Use leftovers sensibly: For example, make a cheese fondue out of cheese rind. With leftover bread, surprise your guests at the Christmas breakfast with "french toast", a traditionally fried leftover meal with bread, cinnamon and sugar breaded with egg.
Think of those who spend Christmas alone or in the cold and find out, to which charitable associations or panels you can donate food. In this way, you can spread so much joy to unknown people and enlighten their Christmas.
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9. Meatless alternative: vegan Christmas
By not eating meat, we protect the climate without giving up excellent taste. For vegetarians and vegans, there are versatile recipes that make the banquet - regardless of the abstinence from meat - a culinary delight. Take your time and plan your individual holiday menu. Try complicated recipes in advance, so that they succeed right off the bat on Christmas. Even if the feast is not exclusively meatless, it is worthwhile to replace one or the other food with a meatless alternative.
10. Fair Christmas greetings
You can send Christmas greetings by e-mail in order to save time and CO2. There are numerous providers for designing personal greeting cards and directly send them online. If you still want to personally sign and send your Christmas mail, use postcards and envelopes made of recycled paper or other sustainable materials such as bamboo or cork from manufacturers who ensure social responsibility and environmentally friendly production. Remember to post climate-neutral shipping (as gogreen).