Six tips for a lower impact Christmas


With all we know about the pressures our consumption is putting on our environment, the question about how our Christmas celebration can be made less impactful is far more urgent.

But how can we make a shift to a more nature friendly celebration without becoming Christmas Grinches? We would argue it’s actually not too hard, it just requires a little creativity.

1. Keep in mind the 5R’s
When you’re doing your Christmas shopping – keep in the mind the waste hierarchy – Rethink (before you purchase), Reduce (your consumption), Reuse (material like wrapping paper), Recover (restore or upcycle new goods from old) & Recycle (any waste material). In other words, rather than buying poorly manufactured plastic goods or goods that have poor environmental outcomes, consider buying vouchers for experiences, or services that have less material impact. Consider how the product can be reused and the recyclability of both the gifts you are purchasing, and the waste products associated.

2. Buy Local
Supporting locally made goods and services is great for the local economy and is almost certainly going to have a lower environmental impact than cheap goods made overseas and imported. It also keeps money circulating and benefiting the local economy rather than sending it overseas!

3. Have a low impact Christmas feast
This can be a contentious one, but the reality is that meat production and consumption has an enormous impact on the environment. We know that not everyone wants to give up the Christmas ham and turkey – but do consider putting more vegetarian options on the table this year. If you are going to be eating meat, be sure to support as much as possible free range or organically managed farms with good animal welfare credentials. Keep any leftovers for a delicious Boxing Day treat, and compost any food waste by using a bokashi system, worm farm, or composting bin.

Composting your food scraps will reduce what you send to landfill

4. Consider how you travel
Travelling by plane may be unavoidable if you have family far and wide, but as much as possible look at how you are going to be getting around for Christmas. Air travel has the highest impact by a significant way, so if it’s a choice between flying or driving, you can be sure driving will be much kinder to nature. However, keep in mind other more active options, like cycling, walking, and public transport. These more active modes can make the day more of an adventure and can be quite a lot of fun for your family. Just be sure to check timetables for public holidays!

5. Upcycle or make your own gifts
Make Christmas fun for your family by getting creative. Getting your kids to make some of their own gifts and cards, is a beautiful way to get into the true Christmas spirit of giving. Create an art table for the day with colouring pens and materials and let the kids loose. Make some time in the weekend to make a present together with your kids for some of their family. For the adults, gifts of home preserves, chutneys, candles etc can be a special customised way of expressing gratitude.

Upcycled planter box from pallet wood by Funk Up My Junk

6. Give (or request) the gift of giving
Celebrate the holiday season with a Christmas registry at The Good Registry. If you feel that you have enough stuff and don’t need yet another pair of socks, consider asking your friends and family to make a donation to your Christmas Registry in lieu of a gift, and choose a local charity to benefit from their contributions. You can also buy Good Gift Cards that let you choose the value of a donation while the recipient can choose the charity it goes towards – so you both feel good!

Part of getting used to reducing our impacts on the environment involves slightly shifting our perceptions of what abundance and giving mean. This Christmas is the perfect time to start making that shift and that will make the biggest gift of all to our precious planet that sustains us – Papatūānuku!