The Ultimate Guide To A Sustainable Christmas - Zero Waste Cartel

The Ultimate Guide To A Sustainable Christmas

"Sustainability" and "Christmas" are two words that often don't go together. 

Wrapping paper, plastic packaging, plastic decorations, too much food and many unwanted gifts... These are just some of the ways the holiday season contributes to waste. 

However, it doesn't have to be that way...

There are plenty of things you can do to make the holiday season sustainable. 

You just have to know how & where to start! 

So in this blog, you'll find everything you need to have a sustainable Christmas: 

  1. Sustainable Gift Ideas 
  2. Gifts for Teenagers 
  3. Gifts for Kids 
  4. Wrapping Paper
  5. Christmas Cards 
  6. Decorations 
  7. Christmas Trees 
  8. And food 

We wish you zero waste and maximum cheer 😅🎄


Non-Physical Gift Ideas

Christmas doesn't have to be about physical gifts. 

You can gift experiences, which encourage quality-time and discourages single-use plastics too! 

Here's a few ideas:

  • Read a book to someone who is ill or elderly over zoom 
  • Donate to a charity in someone else's name 
  • Gift to charitable or environmental initiatives - like One Tree Planted
  • Gift cards are a great way to ensure your giftee gets something that they will use

Physical Gift Ideas 

We understand that there are times where you might need to give something tangible - whether it's for Secret Santa or a more traditional Christmas approach. 

Here are some ideas for physical gifts:

  • Handmade condiments in a reusable jar 

Homemade jam, pickles, and chutney make a thoughtful gift which your giftee can consume.

To make it more special, add some cute wrapping. Cut out rounds of gingham fabric, wrap the top of the jar and secure with twine. You can then add a hanging paper tag stamped with holiday greetings to complete the look. 

  • Shop at the thrift stores 

Remember - you don't have to buy new. There are plenty of great-quality options available at second-hand shops, and you may even find something vintage & valuable!


Teenagers are notoriously hard to buy for. 

But today's teenagers are paying attention to the zero waste movement and will appreciate a sustainable gift more than anyone else. 

Here are some ideas:

1) Reusable Razor

Great for both genders. They have a nice weight and luxurious feel. 

Plus, they cut out the need for disposable razors saving plastic and money.


2) Eco-Friendly Make Up

From zero-waste cake mascara, to recyclable lipstick, natural cheek tint, and eye brow tint... We have lots of plastic-free, chemical-free make-up which makes great stocking fillers!

3) Bamboo Socks

Every year, my parents give me a pair of socks in my stocking. They are useful and fun - make sure you choose a sustainable material, like bamboo, cotton, or hemp. 

4) Coconut Candles

Made from a mix of coconut & soy wax - these smell amazing, burn slowly, and can be reused as coconut bowls after!



So many toys are made from plastic & come in plastic packaging too. That sends a terrible message to our little ones and doesn't set the best example from the get-go.

Here are a few ideas for sustainable gifts for kids: 

  • Bamboo toothbrushes 

Bamboo toothbrushes are a cute little stocking filler. 

They are a great way to educate kids about sustainability as it adds a bit of fun to brushing teeth! 

  • Seed kits

Plant with your kids at home and watch your seeds grow together, with these plastic-free seed kits.



Wrapping paper isn't necessary but it's fun and can be half the experience of getting a gift. 

You can still gift beautiful presents without the ugly waste. Instead try: 

  • Save the comics from the Sunday paper or the Sunday funny papers & use these as gift wrapping 
  • Use plain brown packaging paper, and use brightly-colored yarn to tie them up 
  • Use Reusable Christmas bags (we've developed some sustainable cotton ones here which you can preorder now) 

PS: Whatever wrapping paper you do use can easily be recycled and used again.



Glittery and glossy cards often can't be recycled - so while they look dazzling, they aren't good for the environment. 

If you want to send Christmas cards, here are some options:

  • Plantable cards 
  • Reuse old Christmas cards (by cutting your favorite bits out)
  • E-cards!

You can also reuse old cards to create gift tags.   



Decorations can be made simply and sustainably.

Better yet - making your own decorations is a great activity to do with the whole family! Here are some ideas of things you can make at home:

  • Hand-cutting paper snowflakes 

These snow flakes can be made by each family member. Here is a 3-minute instructional video that can help. Make sure you use recycled paper or old paper :)

  • String Popcorn
 Here's a simple recipe to follow for DIY String Popcorn.

  • Dried Oranges
Cut up some orange slices, dry them, and pair them with cinnamon sticks to decorate presents – it’s super easy and smells super festive.

  • Gingerbread Name Tags

Both zero-waste and delicious! Bake some gingerbread cookies and pipe on names with icing before you string them on each present.

You can also swap decorations with family members and friends to get "new" decorations, without having to buy anything.

Don't forget to donate any decorations that were not used, and just keep your favorites for next year.



When it comes to Christmas trees - you can either get an:

  • Artificial tree, which you can reuse over and over 
  • Or a real tree

While an artificial tree is often made of plastic, they can last 20+ years so there's an argument for these being the more-sustainable option.

However, sometimes there's nothing better than the festive smell of a locally-grown tree. Just make sure you support your local farms that grow their own trees nearby and can then be composted back in the grounds after Christmas. 

Pro Tip: Search "local Christmas trees near me" or "Christmas trees in [city]" to try to find locally-grown trees grown near you.


We cook in abundance for the holiday season, and while leftovers are great, food waste is not. 

Throwing food away can be easily avoided.  

So here's a few tips to help reduce food waste: 



And finally, if you don’t want to do Christmas, don’t. 

Don’t let expectations from others get in the way of your peace and quiet. 

Christmas has become so commercialized with a lot of focus on the material things... rather than the time you spend with your friends and family. 

For me, the best thing about Christmas is gathering around the locally-grown Christmas tree, eating leftovers on Boxing Day, and enjoying a classic film with my family in front of the fire, with my dog on my lap.

However you spend the holiday season, we wish you so much joy and happiness.

Writer, baker, and lover of nature.



Shopping for someone else but not sure what to give them? Give them the gift of choice with a Zero Waste Cartel gift card. 

These are sent by email & you'll receive instructions with how to redeem and pass on this wonderful gift!


A great stocking filler for all ages - you can buy a pack of 10 & give to each member in the family.


A perfect gift for men, women and teenagers. It looks & feels sturdy, and will help them cut down their waste - and they'll save money by no longer needing disposable razors too.


Unlike most standard hair ties which are made of synthetic rubber and polyester, these are made from natural rubber and organic cotton. 

Buy Now


Add some TLC to your home & make any room smell heavenly ❤️ with these eco-friendly coconut & soy candles.


This mini soap bar bundle includes all eight Humby Organics Soap Bars in one pack - so you can pop one in everyone's stocking and it'll smell amazing!.

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