How to have a natural Christmas

Minimalist tree from Michael’s Craft Store

I love Christmas and part of what I love about it is the beauty and fun of it. But I am changing some of my seasonal customs this year, because I’m learning more about materials and practices that are not healthy for the planet.

I came up with some ideas for having a more natural Christmas this year. Would you like to try it? Maybe it would be hard to make all these changes, but it wouldn’t be difficult to do a few, at least.

Here are some ideas for reducing, reusing and recycling during the holidays.

I am decorating with more natural materials.

  • What I love: I feel good about doing my part for the planet, even if it’s in small ways. And I really like the cozy, simpler vibe.
  • I am getting a real Christmas tree. 75% of Americans put up a plastic Christmas tree. My tree has a smell and an appeal you cannot replace with plastic branches and can also be recycled and composted.
  • I am not using tinsel or flocking on my tree. It’s pretty but not recyclable.
  • Following the advice of YouTuber Garrett LeChic, I am saying NO to glitter: glitter is a microplastic that is terrible for the environment, including marine wildlife. You also cannot send glitter-decorated cards to deployed troops or people in hospitals, and there is probably a reason for that.
  • For holiday sparkle, I’m using glass ornaments I already have that reflect the lights. And fewer ornaments this year, so they really stand out. Minimalist trees are trending!

I am changing the focus of this season from shopping and consumerism to exploring other kinds of activities and self-care.

  • What I love: not struggling to find parking, having lots of time for exercise, cooking and making my home a home, saving money!
  • Shopping can be addictive! I used to shop for fun and at no other time is shopping more fun than at Christmas. I decided to cut way back on the time I spend in stores. I can’t remember the last time I was in a mall! Now, I shop only for what I absolutely need and I think intentionally about whether I really need it.
  • I avoid commercials on television, radio and YouTube by using a SmartTV, playing my own content in the car, and investing in commercial-free YouTube Premium.

I am exchanging fewer gifts this Christmas. 

  • What I love – no more pressure to shop for the perfect gift.
  • Spending more time writing notes in Christmas cards.
  • Saving lots of money. I am even saving more gas!
  • I feel more in tune with the real meaning of Christmas.
  • I made an agreement to exchange only one small gift or to share a special meal or experience together (such as a concert) in lieu of presents.

I am choosing gifts that are consumable or reusable.

  • What I love: I can make some of my gifts. Colors and sizes are never an issue.
  • I give edible gifts, such as sweets, nuts, popcorn, etc.
  • I give consumable self-care gifts, such as seeds from the garden, bath salts, scrubs and balms.
  • I give gifts of books, cards and board games that can be used again and again and don’t require batteries or electricity.
  • I wrap gifts in materials that can be reused or recycled: fabric, cardboard, cotton string, white tissue, etc.

I’m making more of my baked goods and eating at home.

  • Why I love it: it’s healthier, tastier and less expensive than eating out. I have really been shocked at how bakeries and fast food restaurants are using so much plastic these days! It seems like everything comes in a plastic clamshell packaging. But that wasn’t true not so long ago. Baked goods came in paper or cardboard containers that were biodegradable. The world does not need more plastic, so…
  • I’m cooking lots more and experimenting with fresh herbs and produce. I feel a lot healthier and it’s much less costly, for example, a roast chicken: a cinch to make!
  • I am eating more vegetarian meals — beans, legumes and tofu.
  • I found and am using unbleached parchment paper. You can recycle or compost it.
  • I’m reading ingredients and not purchasing items that have high fructose syrup or artificial colors and flavors.
  • I’m baking some of my Christmas treats. I hope to make a Yule Log cake this year!

Let’s hear from you!

I am really just beginning to live in a way that is more respectful of the environment. What other ways could I have a “green” Christmas? Post your tips in the comments!


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