Sustainable Christmas Ideas – Whittlesea Council

Buying gifts: sustainably

The golden rule of sustainable gift buying is to shop local: the closer to the store, the less energy it takes to get the item to you. Beyond environmental issues, it’s always a good idea to support local businesses and there are plenty of places to shop for unique gifts in our city.

Think about your gifts to ensure they won’t end up unwanted or wasted, and choose high-quality products that last over low-quality items with a shorter lifespan. Consider giving a gift of the following eco-friendly options:

  • Flowers (or a potted plant) – You can even grow them yourself. When choosing a bouquet, choose locally grown varieties that are in season whenever you can to reduce your carbon footprint. A potted plant is a great gift that will keep giving for many years to come.
  • edible gifts – Gifts from the kitchen are always welcome, especially at a time of year when everyone is enjoying themselves more than usual. Homemade gifts not only feel a little more personal and meaningful, but they’re also a great way to maximize your budget. Homemade cookies, jam or even a cake are always a great gift/gesture for the ones you love.
  • Experiences – Give the gift of a massage or voucher to a special restaurant, movie tickets, music festival tickets, or anything else you know the recipient will enjoy.

Also consider the amount of plastic packaging included with gift purchases, especially children’s toys. Choose sustainable options or companies whenever possible and take note of which packaging is labeled as recyclable. And if you get a new phone or device for Christmas, be sure to recycle the old one so your e-waste doesn’t end up endangering the environment. Visit and click ‘Clean Mobile Phones’ to learn how to recycle your phone free of charge or drop it off at one of our recycling stations located at local community centers or libraries.

wrapping gifts

In Japan, ‘furoshiki’ is the art of wrapping gifts (and other items) in colored and patterned fabric and has been popular in the country for over 1,200 years. Instead of buying disposable wrapping paper this year, buy locally or make your own reusable fabric wrap in your favorite holiday colors. Tie a knot to secure or make a bow with thread or ribbon.

The best part of using the furoshiki method is that the wrapping is part of the gift. Your recipient can reuse the fabric for their next gift, thus becoming part of a green circular economy.

Alternatively, you can use children’s artwork brought home from school as gift wrapping, adding a personalized touch to your gifts.

And if you get gift bags with gifts, keep them and reuse them with your gifts.

Christmas card options

It’s become popular to send Christmas eCards to your nearest and dearest, but if that’s not your thing, there are a few other eco-friendly options. A novel idea that has taken off in recent years is plantable cards. There are several online retailers that sell them, including some in Victoria. The paper is not only recyclable, but the cards contain seeds that can grow into plants once the paper breaks down. Win win!

And why not keep any Christmas cards you receive to reuse the image on the front to create your own gift tags for years to come.

What could be greener than a tree?

A real tree, that is! If you’ve always used a plastic-based Christmas tree, now is the year to discover the magic of gathering around a living tree on Christmas Eve. If you can’t afford a large live tree, a smaller potted tree (perhaps one you already have) will work just as well with a little creative decorating. Use colored paper, wool or wood to avoid plastic decorations, and if you already have plastic tinsel, take good care of it so it will last a long time.

Light up your Christmas, the greenway

Now there are many fun energy saving LED lights available for your home or Christmas tree. LED lights use 80 to 90 percent less energy than traditional light bulbs. Consider turning off the lights before you go to bed, or if you’re away from home, and keep in mind that non-flickering LED lights are the most energy-efficient option. This advice has the advantage of saving you money!

Excellent meals without waste

Large family banquets are a highly recommended way to spend Christmas Day, but you can still avoid wasting food by being mindful of its impacts. The first step is to prepare the amount of food that you think you will really need. Next, save or give away any leftovers, and put dirty food in the compost or food and yard waste bin instead of the trash bin.

You might also consider shopping consciously at the supermarket and actively avoiding plastic packaging where possible and, when possible, visiting bulk food stores or farmers markets for fresh, locally grown produce.

If you enjoy seafood back in the day, be sure to choose locally sourced fish that is better for the environment. For a guide to sustainable seafood, visit [hyperlink].

For more tips on how to reduce food waste, visit

decorate the table

This year when you decorate the house, try to make your own decorations. Whether it’s leaf confetti for the table, banners made from gum leaves/recycled paper or floating candles made from recycled glass jars. There are endless ways to create a festive atmosphere in the house and get the family involved.

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