Dreaming of a white Christmas? While that fate is in the hands of the weather gods, we can certainly work towards a green Christmas. At Ecophiles, we’ve put together a list of easy-to-do things that will reduce your holiday carbon footprint and waste.

Christmas Trees: Real vs Artificial

The debate over whether to buy a real or artificial tree continues, and common consensus seems to say that as trees are a renewable resource, they might be a better option as many artificial trees (despite years of multiple use) end up in a landfill. Artificial trees use non-biodegradable plastics and metals while real trees can be recycled through chipping for use in gardens. Or you can simply decorate a large house plant!

Eco-friendly christmas: Real or artificial Christmas trees?

Buy from a Christmas tree supplier like London-based Pines and Needles, founded by two brothers when they were just 14. They plant three trees for every one they harvest and are increasingly switching to organically-grown trees. They’ve planted  more than 200,000 trees since they made this commitment in 1999.

Shop around for an organic tree farm that is pesticide free. The Soil Association has a list of sustainable producers as they inspect and award organic certification to farms and businesses that meet their organic standards.

Rent A Tree

This fabulous idea is gaining popularity, as sites like Forever Green Christmas care for the trees all year round and are only removed from the ground in their special pots just before the delivery date. When their trees grow too big for homes and businesses, they are donated to forests to continue their life cycle – they are never killed.  They will continue to provide habitats for birds, squirrels and insects.

Rent a tree in California at www.livingchristmas.com, in Vancouver at www.evergrowchristmastrees.ca/

Eco-friendly christmas: Christmas decorations

Lighting

Go for power-saving LED lights, and you not only contribute to saving the environment, but you save on your electricity bills too. Switch off the fairy and other decorative lights when you’re not at home or sleeping.

Eco-friendly Christmas Decorations: 

Don’t fall for the cheap Made-in-China plastic decorations. Summon your creativity and even involve kids to come up with unique, natural decorations. Shape some dough, string together some popcorn and use gingerbread – it’s natural and a fun way to decorate your home and tree. Berries, ivy, branches – nature is your playground.

Recycle and Freecycle 

Don’t throw out your decorations, freecycle them on your local community’s website. Recycle your trees – local councils will compost the trees.

The fine art of Green Gifting

If you’re looking for eco-friendly gifts, try and buy locally produced goods. If you’re going for wine or chocolate, get a fair trade organic brand. Candles make a great gift, but choose biodegradable beeswax, natural vegetable-based or soy candles.

Every year, millions of cards are sent out and gifts given. Recycle wrapping paper or use cloth with a bit of DIY stick-on decoration from last year’s cards and wrapping paper. Use recycled paper for cards.

Go on, recycle gifts you don’t want either. Sustainable giving is critical and quite easy to do if you know how – gift services, experiences, antiques and preferably battery-free goods.

Christmas stall

Calculate your Food Carbon Footprint

Christmas always turns into a time of excess, here’s how to calculate your food carbon footprint: Foodcarbon. Didn’t realise it was that bad, huh? Minimise wastage and donate leftovers to charities.

In the US, check www.localharvest.org that connects people looking for good food with the farmers who produce it.

We hope you will celebrate Christmas the Ecophiles way – green and gorgeous.

Also read: Where to find the best Christmas markets in Europe.

Also read: 7 ways to give back during the holidays.