How to Have an Eco-Friendly Christmas

This year, give a gift to the planet and have a Christmas that’s more about friendship and appreciation, less about stuff. Make the holidays bright -- without burning any fossil fuels.


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You Will Need

  • Pinecones
  • Evergreen boughs
  • Popcorn
  • Cranberries
  • Needle and thread
  • Cloth bag
  • Antique or vintage gifts
  • Local food
  • Cloth or used wrapping paper
  • Reusable holiday cards
  • Local charity
  • Time


  1. Step 1

    Use natural decorative materials

    Use natural materials such as pinecones, evergreen boughs, and homemade popcorn and cranberry strings for your holiday decor.

  2. Step 2

    Bring a cloth bag shopping

    Bring a cloth bag when you go shopping, and decline plastic or fancy shopping bags.

  3. Step 3

    Give gifts of experience

    Gifts of experience -- such as theater tickets, a special meal, or a visit to a day spa -- also contribute to a greener, low-waste holiday.

  4. Step 4

    Consider donating to a charity

    For the person who has everything, consider donating to a charity in their name. Choose a cause that will be meaningful to them.

  5. Step 5

    Reuse gift wrap

    Use and reuse cloth to wrap gifts, as traditionally done in Japan. If you use paper and ribbon, unwrap packages carefully so you can reuse the wrapping another time.

  6. Step 6

    Make gift tags from Christmas cards

    Save the fronts of Christmas cards you receive. Cut them into squares, punch a hole in the corner, and reuse them as gift tags.

  7. Shop for antique or vintage gifts, which don't require the manufacturing of new stuff.

  8. Step 7

    Serve local food and wine

    For holiday celebrations, think of serving local food and wine, to reduce your carbon footprint, or products such as organic coffee and rainforest nuts that help protect distant environments.

  9. Step 8

    Donate old toys

    Instead of throwing away old toys, take the time to donate them to a local charity that can use them.

  10. Step 9

    Do something you love

    Think of something you love to do -- whether it's baking, singing carols, drinking mulled cider, or walking at night in the wintry air -- and make time to do it.

  11. Step 10

    Shred your Christmas tree

    Finally, when the holidays are over, look into tree-shredding programs in your town that can turn your holiday decorations into valuable mulch.

  12. Americans generate about 25 million extra tons of garbage during the holiday season, a figure that could be reduced if everyone caught the spirit of a green Christmas.