6 Can Christmas Be Waste Free?

The entire month of December can be a very wasteful time. Gifts, extra travel, decorations, parties....it all adds up. Being waste free the entire time is not very realistic but what if you could start small. What if you generated no trash during your main holiday gathering, whether it is on the 25th or not.  I believe that it is not only possible, but it is very easy to do. Sure you have no control over what other people contribute to your holiday celebration, but you do have control over what you do with the items that they bring.  Here are my tips on how you can make this Christmas one where you throw nothing in the trash.

Save all wrapping paper, bows and ribbon. Most likely these can not be recycled in your area so you will need to save them for upcycling. The best re-use for them is in crafts or for use next year at Christmas. 

Craft Ideas

Save all tissue paper. It is easy to reuse it in other gift bags and for those that are torn or ripped you can easily use them in crafts like making your own valentines or teachers gifts

Use kraft paper for all gifts that you wrap. You can easily get kraft paper for free by saving the paper that comes in packages that are delivered to your house. I save it year round and then make our own paper

Save Christmas cards and use as gift labels next year. While cards can easily be recycled they can also easily be saved and turned into gift tags next year. 

Skip the traditional crackers and make your own. You can use paper towel rolls that you then recycle or fabric that you can reuse year after year. I really like the fabric idea because you can keep using them and you could reuse scrap fabric that you have. Also, if you have cut paper towel out of your life then you won't have any paper towel rolls kicking around to use. 

Compost Compost Compost. Not all cities have a compost program that you can make use of but you most likely have control over composting in your own home. You can backyard compost or vermicompost, the choice is yours. If you don't have a compost program then you will need to find an alternative for any meat related waste you produce. Consider giving the leftover turkey bones to a family member who is able to compost them. 

Don't open the packaging on gifts you won't use. We all get them, the gift that we just know that we will never ever use. Save yourself from having to throw out non-recyclable packaging by not opening these gifts. Keep them in their original packaging and then donate them to someone in need. 

Don't go overboard with the food. It is easy to get caught up in meal preparation and the next thing you know you have a 25lb turkey and 90 side dishes;. Simplify your menu and plan ahead based on the number of guests you will have. This will reduce the amount of food waste you end up with. 

What are your tips to have a waste free holiday?

Related Posts - Check them Out
When the Holidays Keep on Giving
Holiday Gift Giving - Thinking Outside the Box
Upcycling Packaging


  1. I love the idea of "not opening up the packaging" since I'm sure we will get stuff we won't use. My husband also wanted to buy some wrapping paper so that he could wrap a couple things and I said no. I'm actually quite proud that I can remember the last time I bought any kind of wrapping paper!

  2. I don't remember the last time either! I still have some birthday and wedding paper from 10+ years ago though.

  3. Love this! We began buying decorated boxes and tins just a few years ago. They're pretty expensive compared to wrapping paper, especially the wooden boxes, but with just a few every year we have built up to quite a selection.

    We do use up ribbon to secure the boxes closed (when left alone, not everyone has the strength to ignore the box with their name) and add a bow to the top. Those are usually reusable, especially if we buy quality products to start with. Nice ribbon and bows are heart breaking to discard.

    We use the boxes, and especially the tins, to store our ornaments and decorations after the holidays. We still need a lot more just for our own little family, let alone the extended family, but we're working on it.

  4. @Lu Ann - do you take the boxes back each Christmas from everyone you gifted to?

  5. I am hoping for a zero waste Christmas this year. I have been so close in years past. This year I bought the little ones a paper bead maker for a gift, now anyone who brings wrapping paper to my house will have their paper either saved and returned to them or given to the children to be creative with. Several years ago I dug out all my fabric scraps, curtain valances and tie backs and sewed enough bags in various sizes to cover any size gift I might give. I honestly can't remember the last time I bought wrapping paper because even before making my gift bags I reused the paper left behind from years past.

  6. We get a little better every year, but it still takes some conscious thought. This year, I made a lot of handmade gifts presented in reusable containers.