How To Have A Zero Waste Christmas

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A few weeks ago I did a whole series on Lagom. This is the Swedish word for being being zero waste. All about living a life in balance. Not too little, and not too much, but just enough. It means that we are more mindful of what we are using, and encourages us to recycle and be more sustainable. So in the long term it saves us money, and perhaps saves the planet too. Who doesn’t want to do that? So this year, why not have a more zero waste Christmas?


How To Have A More Zero Waste Christmas and Frugal Holiday Season




The mainstay of a zero waste lifestyle is to reuse, recycle and reduce how much we are using. To me the Christmas holiday is all about getting together and enjoying some quality time with the family.

But it is also an increasingly commercial affair, and to children this means a load of new toys. And a lot of plastic. None of which is very eco friendly. We throw an awful lot away over the holidays, from the wrapping paper to the toy boxes. In fact, the average home has at least 30% more waste over the festive season.

So what can we do to start going zero waste for the festive season? How can we make it a less throwaway affair?

Here is your guide on how to make Christmas zero waste.

Advent Calendars

Even in the run up to Christmas, we are encouraged all around us to buy things that we don’t need and that are wasteful. One of these things is advent calendars that often produce a tonne of waste. 

So why not buy a reusable advent calendar, or reuse one with drawers or bags year after year. I bought a drawer type advent calendar several years ago, and now can reuse and refill the boxes with whatever my little girl loves this year. 

Or your could also make your own. See my simple sewing project of advent calendar bags, or my upcycled toilet roll tube calendar

Christmas Cards


Maybe the most ecologically sound thing is to not give Christmas cards. But I do like cards, and they do arrive each year. Why not explain to friends that you won’t be giving cards and give the money to charity instead? Or send e-cards?

If you really do want to buy cards, there are some wonderful fair trade Christmas cards and charity cards on the market, which means that your money is doing more good. Even if they are a little more expensive.

And as for the cards that you do receive, why not reuse them? When I was younger we used to turn some of our cards into tags for the following year using pinking shears and string.

Why not make a card basket?

You could also reuse some of the best bits from your cards in making new handmade ones of your own to send. Like our confetti cards.

But I’ve found another decorative way to reuse old cards.


Merry Lagom Christmas - loads of old Christmas cards before cutting


A Card Garland is easy to make by

  • drawing circles around a glass on the fronts of the card,
  • cutting out and sticking them together in pairs (I used a glue stick)
  • sewing them on a sewing machine.
  • Start with a really long length of thread before you sew.
  • Sew the first pair of circles through the middle.
  • As you reach the edge of one pair of circles, add the next pair.
  • Leave a long length of thread at the end.

Find the full tutorial here.

Make these as long as you need.


Merry Lagom Christmas - card garland in place on my mantlepiece. Other handmade Christmas decorations in place.

(You may also notice my Padded Christmas Tree and Rag Wreath there, which are great ways to upcycle clothes and have even more eco friendly decorations)

Alternatively, you could make my easiest bunting ever – find the template and instructions here.

How To Make The Easiest Bunting Ever - this bunting is quick, easy, simple to make and uses up your fabric scraps. Get the free template here


Christmas Trees

It is actually very difficult to have a completely zero waste Christmas tree. Most Christmas trees do cause some waste. 

One of the best ways to have a Christmas tree is to have one that you can replant in the garden and reuse year in year out. Make sure to keep it watered and moist whilst indoors though.

However, for those of us that don’t have gardens, myself included, you may need to buy a fake Christmas tree or get a new cut real tree each year.

If you do get a real tree, a lot of councils and businesses advertise a service to come round afterwards to pick up and dispose of your tree in an ecologically sound way. Though actually cut real trees are not very ecologically sound. They create a lot of emissions. So, If you do have a fake tree (even a plastic free Christmas tree), make it last a lot of years and you may actually be being more ecologically sound overall than getting a real cut tree each year.

Whichever Christmas tree you get, try to use eco friendly Christmas tree decorations.


Zero Waste Christmas Decorations


It is lovely to see all the shiny glittery baubles. But are they really that ecologically sound? Not if you are buying new ones each year! So here is how to have more eco friendly Christmas decor, and more zero waste ornaments.

Do reuse all the decorations year after year as much as possible. A lot of Christmas decorations are plastic, so can last for years as long as they are packed up securely and stored well each year in a dry cool place. Don’t keep just buying more.

Or think about making your own plastic free Christmas decorations such as salt dough or clay ornaments. Ones that are reusable year after year. If you are buying decorations, consider buying fair trade Christmas decorations.

Why not try these scrap fabric tree decorations?

But one of the most eco friendly Christmas decorations you can get is to get foliage, branches and flowers from the garden to decorate. You can use any extra branches that you don’t need from your real tree, plus holly, ivy and other seasonal plants from outdoors to decorate your mantle and hearth. Plus to make table centrepieces.

Merry Lagom Christmas - my mantle decorated with natural foliage


Christmas Wrapping Paper


You may not realise, but the vast majority of the wrapping paper that we think of putting in our green bin cannot be recycled at all. Especially if it has plastic surfaces, metallic or glitter finishes, as most do over Christmas. These all cannot be recycled and end up in landfill. In reality, we waste so much paper!

So a better idea, and one of the best and most recyclable wrappings is plain brown paper. You can spend some time using ink or stamps or decorating it yourself, or use pretty string, pine cones or lavender stems. Make it more personal. It can look so stylish, and is SO much cheaper too, as you can buy it on big rolls. (which can also be used for parcels!)

Merry Lagom Christmas - brown paper christmas parcel

Why not reuse old paper and bags, keeping them to one side for reuse next year? I do save old bags, and just add a new tag these days. (maybe made from an old Christmas card?) It seems so wasteful to just throw them away.

Instead of ribbon, why not make some fabric twine from old clothes or pieces of fabric?

Or you could use a scarf or piece of cloth to gift wrap presents. Lush has been offering this as a service for a while, but you could buy your own material, or even buy a second hand scarf from a charity shop.

Lastly, why not make fabric drawstring bags from Christmas fabric, with appliquéd names on them? These can be used year in and year out. 

Love sewing? Why not make some of my other Christmas sewing ideas?

Find some brilliant ideas for Christmas Wrapping in this post from Karo at CraftsyHacks


Zero Waste Christmas Tips - A Merry Lagom Christmas - here are some ideas hints tips and tricks on how to reuse, recycle and upcycle in order to have a more zero waste festive season . Holiday ideas on reducing waste and reduce plastic pollution this Xmas


Zero Waste Christmas Gifts


And while we are on the subject of presents, do we really need to buy so much this year? How much of it do we actually need?

Yes it is lovely to give and receive gifts, but maybe we need to stop just giving for the sake of it. Isn’t it a better idea just to give meaningful gifts? There are lots of sustainable Christmas gift guide ideas out there.

I write about giving experience gifts in this post. Experiences are great gift ideas, and a brilliant example of a zero waste gift. Why not gift a day out, giving the gift of memories rather than ‘things’?

How about setting a budget if frugality is the main aim? My favourite idea is to give ‘vouchers’ such as an offer to babysit, or do somebody’s nails. Giving your time is a much better present.

You could also make a present. Give a cake that you have made, or other small hand made gift.

Merry Lagom Christmas - 60 Positive Motivational Quotes - collect moments, not things

As to all the plastic toys that the children want? Well, there is always going to be the latest thing. But why not regift some of the old toys to children who are in need? Or give them to friends with younger children. Or sell them on eBay to make way for the new items that your child will be getting? It’s much better for the planet to buy second hand.

So whilst we are on the subject, why not buy preloved presents for other people? Buying other people’s unwanted new unwanted gifts or preloved items is a much better way than buying new. You can often save some money, get a bargain and find some real treasures. Looking at tabletop fairs, craft fairs and markets towards Christmas is great fun too!


Christmas Crackers


A lot of the high street have announced this year that they will not be having small plastic items in crackers this year.

But even so, how ecofriendly is the Christmas cracker anyway, with its glittery shiny outer? Maybe it is time to forgo this tradition, or perhaps make your own.

See here my eco tutorial on how to make your own fabric crackers!


Shopping Local


Shopping local is the perfect way to have a zero way Christmas. Not only does it mean that you have a lower carbon footprint, but it means that you are putting money into the pockets of the local economy and helping local people and businesses rather than the multinationals.

Zero Waste Christmas Tips - A Merry Lagom Christmas - here are some ideas hints tips and tricks on how to reuse, recycle and upcycle in order to have a more zero waste festive season . Holiday ideas on reducing waste and reduce plastic pollution this Xmas


Christmas Food


And finally, maybe the most important part of Christmas is the food. Food waste is a problem all year round, but it all seems to snowball at Christmas. So how can you be more frugal and eco friendly with your Christmas meal?

  • plan what you are going to need and only buy what you will need to ensure no waste
  • consider buying loose meat/fruit/veg and produce – so much waste goes into the packaging of Christmas food.
  • think about going meat free – we all know that animal farming is a huge contributor to the climate change – perhaps think about having a nut roast instead of a turkey this year?

And do plan to use up all your leftovers too – or compost them where possible.

This part of my traditional Christmas meal is so frugal – have you seen my seasoning pudding recipe?

Seasoning Pudding. This is the recipe for a savoury bread starter. A cheap frugal meal opener, it is made using leftovers & stale bread.


Is It Possible To Have A Plastic Free Christmas?

It probably is possible. But like everything I do say just to make as many swaps as you can. If everyone makes small swaps towards a more sustainable home then we all together make an impact. 

None of us are perfect. So stop being judging of others. Keep shouting out how the easy swaps are working for you, and slowly maybe we will educate others to follow our lead and choose our sustainable Christmas ideas too.

So will you be having a zero waste Christmas this year?

A zero waste Xmas is not about me telling you how to life your life. I do realise that we are all strapped for time, and sometimes we have to spend money to save time. But you can save a lot of money, and make Christmas so much more personal by spending a little time and turning slightly away from the mass made market.

I hope you like some of my ideas for a zero waste Christmas. Are there any of these zero waste Christmas tips that you particularly love? And that you would use? Do comment below.

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Zero Waste Christmas Tips - A Merry Lagom Christmas - here are some ideas hints tips and tricks on how to reuse, recycle and upcycle in order to have a more zero waste festive season . Holiday ideas on reducing waste and reduce plastic pollution this Xmas

Zero Waste Christmas Tips - A Merry Lagom Christmas - here are some ideas hints tips and tricks on how to reuse, recycle and upcycle in order to have a more zero waste festive season . Holiday ideas on reducing waste and reduce plastic pollution this Xmas.








42 Replies to “How To Have A Zero Waste Christmas”

    1. Jo Boyne says:

      I love the traditions and special times coming up to Christmas so much. Thank you for reading!

  1. Mummy here and there says:

    Fantastic ideas and great way to recycle and not waste so important during the festive period X #pocolo

  2. Tracy Albiero says:

    This is fab! We use a fake tree. I love the idea of reusing cards. I have a ton that I am going to make a garland with. This will be so unique. I have encouraged my family to give my kid experience items for Christmas. Movie passes. Coupons for family time. We as a society have way too much stuff!!!

    1. Jo Boyne says:

      Totally agree. We are using a fake tree while we have a toddler but I do love a real tree!

  3. Cheryl | TimeToCraft says:

    Love your list. I’m all for a more simple time over the festive period. Hope you have the Merry Lagon Christmas that you are after. #PoCoLo

  4. Raisie Bay (@RaisieBay) says:

    Fabulous ideas, I’m all for making things for Christmas and recycling old cards. This year I’ve been busy crocheting gifts for people, this can be costly with the price of wool, but I make some gorgeous scarfs using the leftover bits of wool from other projects.
    Thanks for linking your post to my Christmas linky, I’ll keep retweeting it until Christmas and put it on my Pinterest board. x

    1. Jo Boyne says:

      Thank you Anne. It always amazes me how many leftovers I get with crafting, and I just want to keep finding ways of using them!

  5. Fiona Cambouropoulos says:

    I have 3 years of old cards, I use them for so many things including garlands and gift tags. I hate to see waste and making things makes me feel the Christmas magic #GlobalBlogging

    1. Jo Boyne says:

      Me too! I love the crafting coming up to Christmas, and finding new ways to use up old things is a really great challenge!

  6. Isabel says:

    Love the idea of making garlands out of old card motifs, so pretty and bespoke – thank you for sharing #globalblogging

    1. Jo Boyne says:

      I realised that I had another box of old cards too. I could probably make enough garland to cover my house! Thank you for reading

  7. Katie says:

    Wow I knew nothing about this. What a great idea. Perhaps a good way to alleviate some of the stress
    Thanks for linking to #ablogginggoodtime

    1. Jo Boyne says:

      Thank you, I do hope that there is less stress this year – but I’m not hosting so that’s a start!

  8. Lucy At Home says:

    Lots of lovely ideas here. I think that brown paper can just look really nice as gift-wrapping if you do it right, and I really like the circular bunting – it looks fab! #blogcrush

    1. Jo Boyne says:

      I love brown paper as wrapping. And thank you for reading

  9. Mummy Snowy Owl says:

    We were part of the Ikea Live Lagom project a couple of years ago and it’s amazing! I upcycle from our cards every year now!

    1. Jo Boyne says:

      It just is such a shame to even put them to recycle isn’t it? I’d rather make something new with them! Thank you for reading

    1. Jo Boyne says:

      Yes they do, and it all grows back on the trees outside so nothing lost.

  10. Pingback: BlogCrush week 93 – November 23rd 2018 | daydreams of a mum
  11. Stephanie 139a says:

    Ah the tag making and pinking shears, so much fun! But I do like the idea of that card garland, thanks for the idea. Thanks for sharing with #PoCoLo

    1. Jo Boyne says:

      The card garland is such an easy thing to do. So effective and such a good use of all those lovely cards we get sent!

  12. Pickinguptoys says:

    I really like the idea of using brown paper for wrapping. I’m becoming more and more aware and dismayed by the amount of wastage and want to do my bit. This year I’m determined to give it my best. #blogcrush

    1. Jo Boyne says:

      It is really worth doing, plus I do think that they look so stylish. The waste of so much paper is so wrong! Thank you for reading

  13. Jo Boyne says:

    I think the whole planet needs more of it. Thank you for reading.

    1. Jo Boyne says:

      Thank you. Always looking for toddler friendly, a lot of these aren’t just yet!

  14. Heather Keet says:

    A few years ago I switched to reusable decorated boxes that I could put under our tree. We skip the wrapping paper and just reuse the bows and boxes each year. I love it and it looks so classy under the Christmas tree. #GlobalBlogging

    1. Jo Boyne says:

      This sounds like an absolutely brilliant idea. I had planned on making reusable bags… but time is rapidly running out and I seem to have so much to do!

  15. Daydreams of a Mum says:

    Some fab ideas here!! I’m going to use brown paper for wrapping this year. I do love making gifts look all pretty but I didn’t realise about the recycling problem until a couple months ago so I’ll get inventive with the brown paper , maybe buy some Christmas stamps #blogcrush

    1. Jo Boyne says:

      I do think that the brown paper looks really classy. I stamped mine with a white stamp a few years ago which looked fab!

    1. Jo Boyne says:

      We do throw away so much. It’s great to even get one more use out of something instead of throwing it away.

  16. AnneMarie Wichman says:

    Your article was great UNTIL you started in on a meatless Christmas because of climate change.

    1. Jo Boyne says:

      Thank you for reading AnneMarie, even if you didn’t quite make it until the end. Throughout my articles on sustainability, I do try to get across the fact that I’m not preaching how to live your life, but asking people to think if you could make one small swap at a time that collectively would make a big difference to our world. Sorry if you feel that this article pushes going meat free too strongly, I certainly don’t mean to come across that way. I’m not a vegetarian either, but do know that there are plenty of health benefits to not eating so much meat in our diets, as well as the climate aspect. Love and peace to you, and hope that you enjoy this Christmas.


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