17 Ways to Celebrate Sustainable Christmas

Meaghan Weeden | November  29, 2021 | 5 min read

How do you Celebrate a sustainable Holiday? 

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?

At One Tree Planted, we choose to celebrate Treecember, which is, you guessed it, a celebration of trees throughout the month of December! 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 things that make for 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 through us, you'll be able to customize an awesome e-card that's sure to delight the environmentalist in your life!

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

With many people still erring in the side of caution due to COVID, more people than ever are getting outside. And as long as you have the right equipment to stay warm and dry, the possibilities for winter fun are endless!

Get them a One Tree Planted Tree Beanie — it's a super comfy hat that you can wear with pride. The best part? You'll be supporting reforestation projects around the world!

treecember social media

5. TAG US USING #TREECEMBER 

Here's your chance to get creative and share your holiday cheer with your friends and followers! Our #Treecember campaign is all about showing our gratitude for nature's abundance and giving back.

Between now and December 31st, tag @onetreeplanted, and use the #Treecember hashtag  to join in the fun. Each time you post and tag us, we'll plant a tree just for you!

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 ecosystems of 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.

While we aren't suggesting you gift others your hand me downs, there are 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 can 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, hit up 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 package 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 out enough stuff to fill the world’s largest container ship with trash. That’s 12 container ships every single day, and 4380 container ships in one year.

Even with your best intentions at heart, the gifts you give are likely to 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. RECYCLE AND DECORATE NEWSPAPER FOR 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 for wrapping paper instead. Craving a more uniform look? Try wrapping gifts in fabric, which can be reused in sewing projects.

christmas dinner

16. Plan Ahead to Avoid Food Waste and Use Real or Compostable Plates

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.

A full 32% of the 78 million tons of plastic produced annually is left to flow into our oceans; the equivalent of pouring 1 garbage truck of plastic into the ocean every minute. Plan ahead to eat all the food that you make, enjoyed from real plates that can be washed and reused!

haiti reforestation project

17. DONATE TO ORGANIZATIONS WHOSE MISSIONS YOU SUPPORT

There are many amazing organizations working to create a more sustainable world. Support them!

Donations, fundraisers, social media sharing, or even just telling your family about the nonprofits you admire makes an incredible difference.

Whether it’s trees planted, land conserved, wildlife protected, or political efforts empowered, every action matters. Just choose what you’re passionate about and give what you can.

We hope you have a happy, healthy holiday however you're celebrating. And don't forget: you can take an eco-friendly approach to gift-giving and plant a tree as a gift!

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Gift Trees

Gifting a tree in someone's name is a heart-felt and everlasting way to show your appreciation. Make someone smile with delight knowing they are helping to create a healthier planet! Choose an image below, write your message, and gift a tree. Learn more

By gifting a tree, you will help to:

  • Reforest areas affected by environmental disasters
  • Restore native biodiversity to protect holistic ecosystems
  • Boost the liveliness of local communities
  • Trees play a very important role in our lives; they clean the air we breathe, filter the water we drink, and provide habitat to more than 80% of the world's terrestrial biodiversity. Not to mention, forests provide jobs to over 1.6 billion people, absorb harmful carbon from the atmosphere, and are key ingredients in 25% of all medicines.
  • The trees you are helping to plant will create an incredible positive impact for nature, people, and wildlife. Since the need for reforestation is global and always changing, we will distribute your donation to a project where funding is most needed now.
  • 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.
  • In order to maximize the impact of your donation across our multiple projects, we will plant a variety of tree species native to the area that we are reforesting. For example, we plant Polylepsis trees in the Andes since they have adapted to the extremely high altitude. We sometimes plant fruit trees in Africa for agroforestry in order to generate long-term benefits for local communities. In India, Avicennia alba mangroves are planted along the coast as they are resistant to the impact of lower tidal currents.

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