Our Guide to a Zero Waste Christmas

by Maddie Vlismas

It's that time of year again! Christmas is the time for family and friends, celebrating, eating, having fun in the sun... It's also the time for over-consumption, overeating and waste, waste, waste. Our waste rises an incredible 30% over Christmas due to things like wrapping paper, cards and a whole lot of food. 90% of Australians throw away up to 25% of food during the festive period and that's not okay.

Here's our guide for how to have a festive war on waste, without looking like the Grinch. 

Gifts + Decorations 

Gift giving for some people is what Christmas is all about. Seeing your loved ones' faces light up with joy because of something that you bought them is a pretty special feeling. However, as we get older the need for physical, material gifts dwindles bit by bit. Especially if you travel to see family for Christmas, you realise that the gifts you have packed in your suitcase probably aren’t worth the amount you have to pay for extra baggage…

Here are some tips and alternatives ideas to the more traditional gifts and wasteful stocking stuffers to help you reduce your waste:


Setting a price limit can seem like a good idea to discourage overspending on gifts, however price limits are often a bit too restrictive and you end up buying kitschy, novelty gifts instead of something actually useful or needed. There are so many gifts worth giving that are meaningful and don’t create clutter; a night out at the movies, a gift voucher for a month of coffees at a fave cafe, walking someone’s dog for a month, concert and theatre tickets, as well as lessons and classes. 

If you still like the idea of giving something wrapped, why not shop second-hand? Second-hand gifts can make the actual shopping for gifts into a fun scavenger hunt and you’ll come across some real gems and give an object a second life!

If gifts are a thing of the past altogether in your family, you can make charity donations on behalf of one another. Last year, my family gifted to charities and organisations like the RSPCA, the Australian Conservation Foundation, Clean Ocean Foundation and homeless shelters in our area. Better yet, create a pool amongst your family and make a big donation to a charity that means something to you as a family. That’s the real gift of giving.

If you’re a little bit crafty or just strapped for cash, DIY gifts are a great way to show that you care! There are so many things you can make that are suited for all types of people. We’ve made a Pinterest Board of some of our favourite home made gift ideas from food, homewares, beauty products, gift boxes. There’s something for everyone.

Gift Wrapping

Wrap your gifts with what you already own. Magazines + newspapers, re-use old wrapping/ tissue paper, fabric are all great options. Look into Furoshiki, the Japanese art of fabric folding, if you’re looking for a unique way to use fabric to wrap your gifts! You can even make your own gift tags using the gift of nature. Find some unique leaves around your park and decorate them to add some flair!


There’s nothing quite like the joyful feeling of putting up your Christmas decorations. It used to be quite trendy to have a new colour ‘theme’ each year for Christmas, but it’s a much better idea to invest in decorations that you will use year after year.

Already own your own Christmas Tree? The sustainable thing is just to keep on using it. If you don’t already own a Christmas tree- it’s easier than ever make your own. We’ve made a Pinterest board of all the unique ways so that you can find the right tree to craft that suits your style. Another option is a native tree or potted plant that you can decorate. Assuming you've got relatively green thumbs, you'll be able to use this tree every year!

Christmas Tree

Ornaments and wreaths are another fun thing that you can either make yourself or source sustainably. Second hand stores often have a huge range of ornaments that you can re-home. If you’re lucky enough, you might even be able to score some vintage classics from your family! If you're investing on decorations that you plan to re-use every year- wooden or machine washable ornaments are the way to go. 

Check out our other Pinterest Board for decorating and wrapping inspiration

Food + Drink

As it is, we waste a third of the food that we produce worldwide and Christmastime is no exception. We like to think that we're quite good at dealing with food storage and leftovers, so here are some of our tips for cutting down on food waste and sticking to your sustainable values during the silly season.  

Shop local and organic, if you can. This not only supports local farming but helps to minimise the food transportation chain and the footprint that it causes. If it's an option for you-buy the rest from bulk food stores! Not only do they have super delicious snacking options for you guests, but you can cut down your waste even further by bringing your own containers to fill up.

Cooking meals and treats yourself makes for easier meal prep if you're unsure of how many guests will show up on the day. Plenty of food can be prepped and made in advance so as to not add to the stress of the festivities. Plan what foods you'd like to have in advance to give you a better idea of how soon you can get to baking and how much effort each will take to make. Thinking of leftovers in advance can be so be super helpful to future-you. Make a list of dishes you can make using any and all potential leftovers

As the day starts to wind down, start to delegate who is bringing what leftovers home with them. Encourage guests to bring their own reusable containers and make a leftover station where they can help themselves! Whatever is left, divide into containers or reusable zip-lock bags and fridge/ freeze in order of use by dates so nothing goes to waste. Our stretch lids are also a great time saver when you have bowls of dips and deserts that you don't want to waste. Simply chuck a few stretch lids over the remaining bowls of food, chuck em in the fridge and go take a nap!


Travel at Christmastime can be a complete and utter nightmare. Thinking of those expensive airfares, flight delays and traffic combined with everyone's overall level of panic gives us the nervous sweats. Something else that makes us anxious when it comes to travel is the waste and emissions that we create while we zooming around the planet. 

Bring your own water bottle and snacks in reusable containers! A really easy alternative to avoid blowing all your travel money on gross airport food. If you're like me, it will also mean that you're not starving and dehydrated the entire journey as you stubbornly refuse to pay $9 for a tube of broken chips... Our Kappi Water Bottles keep your water cold for 24 hours- a huge win, when its 35°C here in Australia. Our Ziplocks are also great for sneaking a cheeky snack into your bag if you want to avoid buying treats packaged in plastic! 

Cut down your baggage (literally)- no you don't need to pack that fourth pair of sandals for a two day trip. The more a plane weighs, the more carbon emissions it produces. Pack only what you need - the environment will thank you.

Catch public transport to + from the airport if that's an option for you. It will mean that you're not creating any additional carbon emissions from private transport. Travelling overland is another option if you want to avoid flying/ driving altogether. Trains are a comfortable and relaxing way to get from A to B.  

Offset your Carbon Emissions. If you can't avoid flying, like many of us in this hugely spread out country- you can pay money to organisations who will invest your funds in things that will prevent, reduce or remove greenhouse gas emissions from being released into the atmosphere, compensating for emissions you create while travelling. It's not a perfect solution, but definitely one to consider!


If there's any tips that we've missed that you would like us to include, let us know in the comments! A zero-waste Christmas is a happy one in our books

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