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16 tips for a greener Christmas

Christmas garland made from oranges, cinnamon and dried chillies


Christmas is a time of cheer, when we like to share gifts, indulge in mince pies and spend quality time with loved ones. Unfortunately, it’s also become a time where a huge amount of waste is produced, causing a significant impact on our environment.

With a little bit of creativity and planning, we can all take steps towards making Christmas a more conscious, yet just as enjoyable, time of year. We’ve come up with some top tips below to help you achieve just that! 

Close up of a Christmas tree

Christmas trees

We love plants, and know the look and smell of a real tree is important for many homes in setting the mood for Christmas. However, it can feel tricky knowing how to make the right choice that is best for the planet.

1. Real trees

1. Real trees

Possibly the most sustainable option is having a potted living tree with roots, keeping it outside during the year and bringing it inside for the festive period. If you don’t have the outdoor space or the green fingers to look after your tree year-round, did you know that you can often rent a potted tree locally and return it to the care of its owner at the end of the season? 

If you’re opting for a cut tree instead, look for a tree that is grown locally with the BCHTGA ‘kite mark’, or is FSC-certified

After the festivities, make sure you dispose of your cut tree responsibly. You could chop it up and make it into chippings for mulching your garden, locking carbon back into the ground. Many local councils in the UK offer a Christmas tree collection service where they recycle your tree by turning it into chippings or soil for local projects. 

2. Artificial trees

If you already own an artificial Christmas tree, the most sustainable option is to continue using it for as long as possible. Fake firs are often a more budget-friendly choice, so finding a pre-loved tree from a local charity shop or online listing is a thriftier and more eco alternative to purchasing a new reusable tree. 

Artificial trees can’t be recycled, so if you need to dispose of one, try listing it on sites like Freegle, Facebook Marketplace or Gumtree to avoid it ending up in landfill. You could also donate it to a local charity or school.

3. DIY Christmas trees

Have you considered crafting your very own version of a tree? There are plenty of guides online that use recycled or found materials, from paper to driftwood to fabric scraps. 


Learn more about Christmas trees from the Soil Association   

Hands holding a gift wrapped in a robin design tea towel with holly and a tag


Be mindful when gifting and try to avoid presents that will quickly end up in the bin, that include single-use-plastics, or are being flown from overseas. Asking your loved ones for a Christmas list is also a good way to ensure you give things that are wanted and will be long-lasting. 

4. Shop local

4. Shop local

Shopping locally and from small independent businesses minimises your carbon footprint and supports individuals and their families.

Local Christmas markets, craft fairs and online marketplaces like Etsy are bursting with unique gifts that cater to all kinds of budgets.

5. Shop ethically

Shop from sustainable brands – look for the Fairtrade logo to ensure farmers and workers have ethical working conditions and fair wages, and check the company’s ‘about us’ page on their website to see what measures they’re taking to protect the planet. 

Eden’s ethical online shop is packed full of sustainable gift ideas. Christmas gifting is an excellent way to encourage your loved ones to take steps towards zero-waste living.

6. Pre-loved gifts

Have you considered buying second hand or re-gifting something that you already own? You can find amazing items in charity shops and listed online on sites like Facebook Marketplace

Pre-loved gifts will make your money stretch much further, and stops things ending up in landfill. From toys to new-to-you pieces of tech, there’s a good chance someone local will have what you’re looking for.  

7. Homemade

Homemade presents can be very economical and make really thoughtful gifts. From baking to craft projects, there are plenty of ideas and how-to guides across the internet. Make sure you use materials that are recycled, recyclable or compostable, and try and source them as locally as possible.

8. Gifting experiences

Gifts don’t have to be physical. Have you thought about gifting an experience? From Memberships (such as Eden’s) to homemade vouchers promising evenings of stargazing and hot chocolate – with a bit of imagination you can tailor-make special memories that are longer-lasting than a physical gift. 

You can also purchase charity gifts from lots of organisations such as ShelterBox and Oxfam, that will provide supplies to people in need. 

Here at Eden you can even become a Rainforest champion by adopting a rainforest creature.

9. Wrapping

There are plenty of alternatives to traditional wrapping paper. 

Reusable fabric wraps, newspaper and decorated brown paper can make gifts stand out under the tree. You can also cut up old Christmas cards to make your own DIY gift tags.

Avoid using plastic ribbon and sticky tape – instead there are paper and gum tapes available, as well as natural twine for a rustic finish. Save the ribbons and decorations from old gifts to reuse in your wrapping.

If you’re sticking with traditional Christmas paper, remember to look for recycled or FSC-certified paper without any foiling that passes the ‘scrunch test’, which means it can be recycled again. 

Christmas wreath made from greenery, oranges and feathers on a red door


Decorations have the potential to last for decades and be passed down through the generations. We know sparkle can be tempting, but avoid buying plastic decorations, including tinsel. Keep a look out for second-hand adornments, rather than buying new. 

10. DIY decorations

10. DIY decorations

Why not gather with friends or family, and have a decoration making party? There are so many opportunities to get creative with paper and found natural materials.

Have a go at making a beautiful citrus garland or these zero-waste DIY decorations.

11. Fairy lights

Switching to LED fairy lights uses far less energy – not only will they save on your electricity bill, they’ll also last much longer than incandescent bulbs. Make sure you switch your Christmas lights off (or set them on a timer) in the daytime, when you’re out of the house and when you’re asleep. If your lights are outdoors, there is the option to go solar-powered, which would make them free to run.

At the end of their life, fairy lights shouldn’t go in general waste and to landfill. Anything with a plug or that use batteries can be recycled at your local household recycling centre. If you’re in the UK, find your closest recycle point.

12. Crackers

Have you discovered reusable fabric crackers? Not only will they make your Christmas dining table look beautiful, you can avoid all the waste and cheap, throw-away gifts that end up in the bin after your meal.

If you’re handy with a sewing machine, there are lots of easy online guides to make your own, such as this one. Alternatively, you can purchase ready-made reusable crackers from local craft fairs or online makers’ marketplaces like Etsy.   

13. Advent calendars

To cut down on waste, try switching to a reusable advent calendar that you can refill each year. Remember to avoid treats that are wrapped in plastic, and look for Fairtrade chocolate. 

If you enjoy crafting, there are lots of free online tutorials with patterns for making fabric calendars, such as this one.

Trays of roasted food


Where possible, try to shop locally from organic farmers' markets to reduce food miles and support local businesses. If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option, we’ve put together some tips to help you shop greener at larger supermarkets.

14. Food shopping

14. Food shopping

  • Shop for seasonal veg – fortunately many festive favourites including potatoes, parsnips and Brussels sprouts are in season in the UK around Christmas. If you live in Europe, you can use this handy tool to discover what’s in season in your country.
  • Consider opting for a plant-based alternative to meat. If that just won’t cut it, aim to reduce the amount of meat on your plate, and make sure you buy ethical produce from the country you live in.
  • It’s easy to fall into the trap of excess, so join forces with local friends and family to share food and minimise leftovers being thrown away. 
  • Plan your meals in advance, make a shopping list and stick to it when you’re shopping. It’s easy to be tempted by extra treats, but try and resist or switch them out for something already in your trolley. 
  • Consider the packaging and whether it’s recyclable. If there’s an alternative to an item that’s wrapped in plastic, opt for that.
  • Remember your reusable bags when you head to the shops.

15. Combatting food waste

  • Cater to the number of people you’re feeding – try this portion calculator to help you plan. 
  • Ask guests to bring reusable food containers so you can share out any leftovers.
  • Turn Christmas leftovers into tasty meals. BBC Good Food have dozens of free recipes online for inspiration. 
  • The freezer is your friend – here’s a great guide to freezing Christmas leftovers.
  • Check out our tips for composting your fruit and veg peelings. 

Train at a platform in Paddington Station


It’s the season to spend time with loved ones, and often that involves travel.

16. Conscious travel

16. Conscious travel

Where possible, take public transport or car-share, and if you can avoid flying, take the train. Booking your train tickets early and travelling outside of peak times means you can often find cheaper fares. It’s also possible reduce the cost of train tickets by splitting up your ticket – there are lots of websites like Split My Fare that can help you work out the cheapest combination. 

Christmas Day walks are a tradition for many, so consider starting from your home, rather than driving to a different location.

Eat, drink and be green

We hope you find these tips useful in taking steps towards a more eco-friendly Christmas. 

We’d love to see changes you’re making at this time of year to help our planet, so please tag us on social media and use #MyEdenXmas.

Ho, ho, ho-oray for sustainable festivities!


Travel photo by Tomek Baginski