It’s the best time of the year once again and soon the whole world will be celebrating Christmas and New Year’s Eve with family and friends. And with the holidays just around the corner, the annual shopping madness has already begun and everyone rushes through the shops stressed to find the right gifts for their loved ones. However, incredibly large amounts of plastic waste are produced during the holidays. Homemade Christmas gifts and Christmas decorations, for example, are not only cheap and time-saving, but also environmentally friendly. So how about not only giving your friends something nice this year, but also doing something good for nature and celebrating a zero waste Christmas? Are you wondering how this should work? Then read on – in this article we have put together many useful tips for a plastic-free Christmas party!
A pile of unwanted presents and torn wrapping paper are all around the apartment – does this scene look familiar to you? On average, every single German produces around 39 kilograms of plastic waste a year, which is around 6 kilograms more than the EU average. So that you can better imagine how serious the situation has got, we have some numbers for you:
- In 2019, 4,368,000 tons of plastic packaging were produced in Germany, which is 85,000 tons more than in 2018.
- Every year at Christmas, up to 80 square kilometers of wrapping paper ends up in the trash.
- Around 125,000 tons of plastic packaging are thrown away.
- 4200 tons of aluminum foil are also thrown away.
- Around 12 million Christmas trees are thrown away.
What exactly is Zero Waste Christmas?
The Zero Waste movement is not just about recycling, but much more about keeping your own waste production as small as possible. And that is exactly the goal of a Zero Waste Christmas – to produce as little waste as possible with the gifts, the Christmas decorations and the preparation of the Christmas dinner. The focus is on homemade gifts and decorations that are very special and unique and always come from the heart. You can use anything you can find outdoors or in your own home for this. A great side effect of the plastic-free holidays is that you save money and time and that way you can spend a lot more time with family and friends.
Make a sustainable and environmentally friendly Advent wreath
A beautiful Advent wreath should of course not be missing for Christmas. Instead of buying a finished one from the store this year, why not try making an Advent wreath yourself? It’s a lot easier than you think, and you can use just about anything to do it – the only rule is to avoid plastic items. A homemade Advent wreath radiates comfort and warmth and gives your apartment a unique character. In the following you will find simple and quick instructions on how to make a plastic-free Advent wreath yourself.
- A wooden bowl or a large serving bowl
- 4 mason jars
- 4 large candles
- Nuts, pine cones, dried fruits and fresh twigs for decoration
And it’s that simple:
- Put the candles in the mason jars and tie the string around them.
- Now decorate and decorate the bowl or bowl as you like. It looks particularly beautiful and festive when you stick a few fir branches in the string between the glasses. And your Advent wreath is ready in less than 10 minutes!
Zero waste Christmas – ideas for sustainable Christmas decorations
Decorating the home together is a tradition in all families around the world. How about decorating your home with various elements from nature this year instead of the usual plastic and plastic decorative items? Maybe some dried flowers, nice birch twigs or something like that? We recommend that you take a few walks through the forest or the park and collect everything you can find on the ground.
- Chestnuts, pine cones, colorful autumn leaves, fir branches – all of this is perfect for wonderful Christmas decorations, which are also biodegradable and cost no money.
- If this isn’t for you, you could just ask your friends and acquaintances if you have some decorations that they don’t want to use this year. Or go to the flea market and look for nice second-hand goods – you will be surprised at the great things you can find there!
- You can also decorate your natural decoration with anise stars, cinnamon sticks or dried orange and tangerine peel, which provide a wonderful scent.
- Candles give every room a wonderful, solemn atmosphere. For your Zero Waste Christmas you can try to make your own candles, which are also ideal for a self-made Christmas present.
And what about the Christmas tree decorations?
What would a Christmas tree be without the shiny and magically decorated Christmas balls? Granted, they are beautiful, but unfortunately they are almost always made of plastic. And just as with home decoration, the decorative items for your Christmas tree are right in front of your door.
- Dried fruits – Regardless of whether oranges, apples, lemons or other types of fruit, dried fruits simply smell wonderful. You only need a piece of string and you have your self-made ornaments for the Christmas tree.
- Garland of popcorn and cranberries is a great change from the conventional glitter garlands and a classic among the self-made Christmas decorations. Simply prepare the popcorn according to the instructions on the packet and prepare fresh cranberries. Then take a thread and thread it into the needle. Then thread the popcorn and cranberries alternately, tie the cord in a knot at the end and you’re done!
- Pine cones and various branches are also ideal for Christmas tree decorations.
- Or how about self-sewn or crocheted ones Christmas ornaments?
- Edible Christmas tree decorations – Home-baked Christmas cookies are a must in every family and fit perfectly with the concept for a zero waste Christmas. The most beautiful? After the holidays you can simply enjoy the delicacies together with the family!
- Only use what you already own from the previous years.
The Christmas tree
A real Christmas tree smells wonderfully like Christmas and brings back great childhood memories for many of us. The number of Christmas trees sold and cut down in Germany is increasing from year to year – 29.8 million were sold in 2018. For this year the number is 30.4 million and that is a whole 600,000 trees more! Even though many municipalities have been collecting Christmas trees from homes for a number of years and then delivering them to biomass power plants or zoos, a large part of them is still simply thrown away. In addition, around 15% of Christmas trees are imported from abroad. So what alternatives are there for a Christmas tree for a zero waste Christmas??
- Buy a Christmas tree in a pot – Small Christmas trees in pots look just as beautiful and give the room a festive atmosphere. After the holidays are over, you can do something good for nature and plant the tree outdoors again. Do you have your own garden? All the better – then you can plant it there and simply use it again next year.
- Rent a Christmas tree – Many big cities like Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Frankfurt am Main etc. have been offering the option of renting a Christmas tree for the holidays for a few years now. They will be brought to you alive and picked up again after New Year’s Eve. Then they are replanted so that they can be used again the next year.
- Or why not make a Christmas tree yourself? – Do you feel creative? Whether from fir twigs and branches, from old pallets or an old ladder – there are an incredible number of ways to make a Christmas tree yourself.
Suitable gifts for Zero Waste Christmas
Suitable gifts for Zero Waste Christmas are, on the one hand, things from your own home, from the flea market or gifts you have made yourself. Even non-material things, such as a voucher for various joint activities, are an excellent idea. The basic rule is in principle – buy as few new things as possible.
- Giving away time instead of stuff – Christmas is all about having a good time with family and friends. The feeling of being surrounded by loved ones cannot be compared to any bought gift. There are so many ways to really pamper the recipient – going to a concert or cinema, visiting a nice restaurant or going on an excursion. Or why not do something useful, like mowing the lawn, babysitting or taking a cooking class together – absolutely anything is possible!
- Edible Gifts – Homemade Christmas gifts from the kitchen are another great way to show your loved ones how much you love them. To do this, fill reusable containers or glasses with delicious Christmas cookies, homemade pralines, candied nuts or homemade eggnog. You can then decorate and decorate the glasses as you wish.
- Make the Christmas presents yourself – Homemade gifts are always something very special. Soaps, lip balm, candles or bath balls can be made very easily and quickly.
- Giving away old things – Everyone has things at home that they rarely or never use. Your best friend thinks your old sweater, which has been lying around in your wardrobe for years, is super beautiful? So why not just give it away as a gift? Not only clothes are suitable for this, but also everything else from the household – small kitchen appliances that only collect dust or old furniture and decorations that are of course in good condition.
- Buy something from the second hand shop – Christmas gifts don’t always have to be brand new and super expensive. Shopping in a second hand store and reusing old things in this way is the perfect match for a zero waste Christmas. Whether it’s antique furniture, vintage jewelry, stylish clothing, obsolete electronics, or just something you found in a charity shop – if you’re lucky, you might find real treasures along the way!
- Gift exchange exchange – At least one of the gifts we get for Christmas is something we don’t like or need. An exchange wallet is a fun and fun way to hang out with your friends. Everyone has to bring a present that they don’t want. After that, all things are placed somewhere and each person can choose something. This continues until everyone has a present.
Wrap Christmas gifts sustainably
Without a doubt, unwrapping presents is always great fun. But what happens to the paper afterwards? Most of the time it ends up in the trash. If every family in Germany only wrapped 3 gifts with reusable materials, that would save enough paper to cover around 30,000 soccer fields. You can also easily wrap your Christmas presents in a fun way without creating additional waste.
- Waste paper from newspapers and magazines, old maps, greaseproof paper, recyclable paper or cloth bags.
- For larger gifts, for example old bed linen use.
- Parchment paper has a neutral color and is very easy to fold. You can decorate and paint it individually.
- Shoeboxes have the perfect shape and are ideal for wrapping your gifts in them.
- Furushiki is a Japanese art in which various fabrics are transformed into beautiful packaging. This could be old scarves, bandanas, bedclothes, handkerchiefs or even shirts. There are many online tutorials that show exactly how to do this, step by step.
Zero Waste Christmas – Prepare the Christmas dinner accordingly
Sitting at the table with the family on Christmas Eve, eating delicious dishes and talking – sounds great! You want everything to be perfect and that all guests go home satisfied and full and most of the time there is a lot more cooked than can be eaten at all. But have you ever thought how much food is thrown away afterwards? According to recent studies, Germans spend around 30% more money on Christmas dinner than in the remaining months, and the discarded food is enough to prepare another 2 million servings! Do something good for the environment and follow our tips against wasting food at Christmas.
- Make a list – First think about what you want to cook and for how many people, and then make a list of the foods you need. Be realistic about this – it doesn’t make sense to prepare 6 servings of one dish if, for example, there are only four of you.
- Freeze leftover food – Much more food can be frozen than most people think. Cheese, boiled meat, fried vegetables, various dips and cakes and biscuits – all of this can be frozen in portions and can be kept for at least another 1-2 months. What you cannot freeze, such as lettuce, can be safely consumed within 48 hours.
- Only buy from local dealers.
- Avoid individually wrapped foods – A whole bag for an avocado or for 2-3 sausages – it really doesn’t have to be. Individually packaged food generally costs more and creates unnecessary waste. More and more supermarkets have sustainably packaged food in their range or offer customers the option of packing their purchases in containers they have brought with them.
- Donate the food or give it to the neighbors – Don’t throw away any groceries and instead help someone in need or make the neighbors happy – perfect for a merry Zero Waste Christmas.