How to Have a More Sustainable Christmas

Meaghan Weeden | November  29, 2022 | 5 min read

How to Make Your Christmas Green

It's no secret that we love this time of the year. The snow is falling, the forest is quiet, and we're ready to do ALL of the winter things. But you may be wondering, how to make your holiday celebrations more sustainable and eco-friendly? After all, with everything you need to accomplish in time for giving season, the thought of crossing all of the sustainable Christmas gifts off of your list, preparing an eco-friendly meal, greening up your decorations, and more, may feel unattainble.

At One Tree Planted, we choose to celebrate Treecember, a month-long celebration of trees and forests. We take this time to honor the important things in life, like friends and family, giving to others, and appreciating nature — in other words, all the makings of a green Christmas and a wonderful sustainable holiday season. 

17 Ways to have eco-friendly holidays

sustainable holidays checklist

1. CROSS OFF OUR SUSTAINABLE HOLIDAYS CHECKLIST

We know that during the busy-ness of the season, figuring out how to have a sustainable holiday can feel next to impossible. This is where our Sustainable Holidays Checklist comes in!

From DIY wrapping paper to LED Christmas lights, we’ve gathered up some of our favorite tips to help you stress less about your Christmas footprint and focus on the important stuff.

e card plant a tree

2. GIFT A TREE PLANTED IN THE GREAT OUTDOORS

Feeling stumped about someone one your list? Consider gifting a tree! Why? Trees truly are the gift that keeps on giving: they absorb carbon, provide a home for wildlife, clean our air and water, hold the soil together, and so much more.

And when you gift trees, you'll be able to customize an awesome e-card to show you care. 

close up writing list

3. START PLANNING YOUR SUSTAINABLE NEW YEAR

The week between Christmas and New Years is the perfect time to slow down and reflect on everything that has happened over the past year — and begin planning for a more sustainable new year.

So what are you waiting for? Set aside a little time, put pen to paper, and dare to dream!

kaylee modeling tree beanie one tree planted

4. GIFT A COZY TREE BEANIE

From downhill + cross country skiing to good old fashioned snowball fights, the winter months abound with outdoor recreational opportunities. And as long as you have the right equipment to stay warm and dry, the possibilities for winter fun are endless!

Help them stay cozy with a One Tree Planted Tree Beanie that plants trees in reforestation projects around the world!

treecember social media

5. Plan ahead to Avoid Food Waste 

Roughly 1/3 of the food produced around the world for human consumption gets lost or wasted. Single-use plastics are also a problem — they frequently don’t get recycled or even make it to a landfill.

Plan ahead to eat all of the food that you make, enjoyed from real plates that can be washed and reused! By buying exactly what you need, you can save money, too!

christmas tree close up

6. Put up a real christmas tree 

Real Christmas trees are more eco-friendly than fake ones, as most come from local, sustainable farms where more trees are planted than cut down each year. When you’re done with your tree, it decomposes naturally.

In contrast, fake trees are made from fossil fuels extracted from vital ecosystems and will pollute the environment for many years, adding no benefits.

christmas light display

7. SWITCH TO LED CHRISTMAS LIGHTS

Not to be a grinch, but all those twinkling lights wash out stars in the sky, disrupt  nocturnal wildlife and waste energy.

So if you do put up Christmas lights, consider putting timers on them so they shine for a few hours but shut off automatically after everyone has gone to bed. And if you can, make sure those lights are energy efficient LED’s.

painting chair upcycle

8. UPCYCLE THINGS YOU DON’T USE

There are 300,000 items in the average American home, with a collective average of 1.2 trillion dollars spent every year on nonessential items.

Put that excess to work and try one of the thousands of awesome upcycling projects that can be made with everyday items to create unique decorations and gifts. The best part? It's a chance to clean up the clutter while giving new life to your stuff!

volunteer soup kitchen

9. GET INVOLVED IN YOUR COMMUNITY BY VOLUNTEERING

Give your time by volunteering at a food shelter, nursing home, hospital, or other community function.
These organizations do great work all year round but they could probably use an extra hand during the busy holiday season.

Your presence is priceless — and you can share ideas for the sustainable use of materials or eco-friendly activities!

woman hiker winter mountain

10. Explore Nature’s Rhythms No Matter the Weather

There’s always something to appreciate in nature, even if the temperatures are cold outside. Step out for family hikes, visit your local forest, go skiing, glide around a skating pond or rink, or just sit by a fire with a mug of hot chocolate and watch the snow fall — we won't judge. Not only is it great to appreciate the outdoors, but your health will benefit too. Any fees for local parks also support environmental stewardship.

cozy cabin forest

11. MAKE SURE YOUR HOUSE IS WELL INSULATED TO SAVE ENERGY

An insulated home is more energy efficient and eco-friendly. It’ll also save you money.

The EPA estimates that homeowners can save an average of 15% on heating and cooling costs (or an average of 11% on total energy costs) by air sealing their homes and adding insulation in attics, floors over crawl spaces, and accessible basement rim joists.

sustainable book gift

12. GIVE GIFTS THAT INSPIRE SUSTAINABILITY IN OTHERS

Lecturing friends and family on sustainability isn’t going to get them on board, but gifts that are fun, interesting, or informative might just inspire them to think differently.

Maybe it’s a book on crafting with recyclables, a set of reusable travel cups, or a work of art that provokes conversation. Find a balance between something that person is already interested in and the theme of sustainability.

airplane wing travel

13. Keep Your Carbon Footprint Low While Traveling

Whether you’re driving or flying, there are many ways to reduce your carbon footprint.

Bring along your own snacks and food containers to reduce your waste from packaged foods you might otherwise purchase.

Travel less if you can, or use electric or hybrid public transportation methods if available. And of course, plant trees to offset your carbon emissions!

happy woman holding ski ticket

14. GIVE GIFTS THAT DON’T CREATE WASTE — LIKE EXPERIENCES

Waste is a huge global problem. Every 2 hours, we throw away enough stuff to fill the world’s largest container ship with trash. That’s 12 container ships every single day, and 4,380 container ships in one year.

Even with your best intentions at heart, there's a good chance that some of the gifts you give may end up as waste. Gift waste-less gifts instead!

A trip, outdoor experience, or delicious edible gift are all great alternatives.

eco wrapping paper cloth

15. MAKE YOUR OWN ECO FRIENDLY WRAPPING PAPER

Most wrapping paper has little to no recoverable value when it comes to post-consumer recycling, while 4 billion trees — or 35% of the total trees cut around the world — are used in paper industries on every continent.

Save newspaper and magazine paper, paint or decorate it, and use that as wrapping paper instead. Craving a more uniform look? Try wrapping gifts in fabric, which can be reused in sewing projects.

And of course, there are many organizations that are doing awesome work and would hugely appreciate the support. Whether it’s trees planted, land conserved, wildlife protected, or political efforts empowered, every action matters. Find an organization that's doing something meaningful to your recipient, and make a donation in their name. 

We hope you have a happy, healthy holiday however you're celebrating. And don't forget: the ultimate eco friendly gift: plant a tree!

Treecember Gift Trees for the Holidays title card
man walking through forest fire planting site
deer in a snowy forest
tree certificate
winter evergreen forest
man with saplings going to plant trees
newly planted sapling surrounded by burned trees
Treecember Gift Trees for the Holidays title card
man walking through forest fire planting site
deer in a snowy forest
tree certificate
winter evergreen forest
man with saplings going to plant trees
newly planted sapling surrounded by burned trees

Gift Trees

This holiday season, gift a tree in someone's name as a heartfelt and everlasting way to show your appreciation. These trees will support a global forest fire recovery fund to protect communities and vital ecosystems! Choose an image below, write your message, choose a delivery date and gift a tree. Learn more

By gifting a tree, you will help to:

  • Reforest lands damaged by record-setting fires
  • Support healthy habitat for iconic biodiversity
  • Plant tree species that will help reduce future fire impact
  • Happy Treecember! Give the gift of trees this holiday season with an environmentally-friendly option that helps to create a healthier planet. These trees will be planted to support forest fire recovery areas around the world, including British Columbia, Idaho, Ghana, Honduras, and Portugal. Planting trees in these regions that have been severely affected by forest fires aren't able to recover a healthy ecosystem on their own, so reforestation is essential as the fires burn off available seed supply within the soil, and/or where there are not enough healthy trees still growing and producing new seeds nearby. Reforestation starts once professional assessments have been made to determine when human intervention would be the most ecologically beneficial.
  • Every year, forest fires are increasing in size and severity, damaging vital ecosystems and creating a need for millions of trees. With so much fire damage, reforestation is necessary to catalyze the environmental recovery process. The trees are carefully planted to prevent invasive species from colonizing burn scars and restore quality habitat for native biodiversity. By gifting trees this holiday season, you are contributing towards a global forest fire recovery fund that protects local communities and restores vital ecosystems.
  • Both you and the giftee will receive a personalized tree certificate (see gallery) with the recipient's name to thank you for your donation. The giftee will get a custom e-card created by you on your date of choice. We will also send you updates about this project, so you can track the impact your trees are having on the community and environment.
  • To maximize the impact of your donation, our partners on the ground will determine the most appropriate species of trees and shrubs. We only plant native tree species that will restore the local ecosystem, re-establish wildlife habitat, and reduce the likelihood of future fires.

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