As Christians, Christmas is a particularly special time of the year as we come together with loved ones to celebrate the joy of the incarnation of Jesus, the gift of a savior being born, and the anticipation of His return. However, Christmas is also a time that has traditionally lacked a heavy focus on creation care. From excessive waste to an increase in energy consumption, the rhythms surrounding Christmas can unintentionally contribute to burdens on God’s creation, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Below are some ways that you can participate in Christmas traditions this year while also stewarding creation and honoring God’s many gifts.
Eco-Friendly (And Economical) Decorating
Choose a real tree
For many, a Christmas tree is at the center of holiday decorations. While some may opt for artificial trees for convenience, a real, locally sourced tree could have less of a long-term environmental impact. Real trees are biodegradable and can be recycled into mulch after the holiday season, whereas artificial trees are typically made from non-biodegradable materials like PVC, which can take centuries to decompose. If you do select a real tree this season, research reputable tree-recycling services in your area if this is not provided by your typical trash service.
Opt for LED lights
When purchasing lights for your tree or home, consider using LED lights, which are more efficient and last longer than incandescent bulbs. For battery-operated lights, consider ones that are rechargeable or outdoor lights that operate on solar energy. You can also use timers for lights to ensure they are only on during the evenings, reducing overall energy consumption.
Choose Natural, Timeless Decorations
Consider other ways you can opt for homemade or natural decorations like pinecones, dried orange slices, evergreen clippings, or popcorn garlands. These reduce the need for plastic ornaments and can help create a cozy, rustic atmosphere.
Sustainable Gifting Ideas
Gift an Experience
Instead of physical items, consider giving the gift of experiences such as spa treatments, ski passes, concert or museum tickets, restaurant vouchers, or an art class. These gifts can create lasting, meaningful memories with less material waste.
Get creative with a gift that only you can give! Handcrafted items like homemade candles, knit scarves, or baked goods are heartfelt and can avoid many of the environmental impacts associated with mass-produced goods.
Choose reusable gift wrapping options this season. Wrapping presents in fabric, scarves, or reusable bags reduces waste while adding a unique touch to your presents.
Support Local Businesses
When purchasing gifts, support local businesses that prioritize sustainable practices and materials. Buying locally can also cut down on the costs associated with shipping and transporting goods.
Sustainable Gift Exchanges
Planning a gift exchange for a work party, church group, or family gathering? Consider a sustainable gift exchange where people bring new or gently used items they already own such as books, kitchen gadgets, or mugs to swap!
Mindful Consumption at Holiday Meals
Buy Local and Seasonal
Opt for locally sourced and seasonal ingredients to reduce the impact of your meals on the environment. Not sure where to start? Attending a winter farmers’ market or connecting with a local community garden can give you an idea of what’s in season in your area.
Reduce Food Waste
Plan out meals ahead of time to avoid excessive leftovers (or plan for a leftovers night!). If you don’t already, research composting in your area to make use of food scraps–and potentially your sustainable decorations when the season is over.
Use reusable plates, cups, and utensils at gatherings instead of disposable ones. If disposables are a must, search for compostable options instead or consider sets of reusable cutlery as party favors.
We hope this list has provided ways to make your Christmas celebration more sustainable and maybe even sparked your own ideas of ways to implement creation care this season. While all the actions we listed might not be practical or feasible for everyone, making individual, creation-conscious choices can be a great way to honor God’s blessings and resources in our lives year-round.
Want to dive deeper into creation care with us this season? Sign up for EEN’s weekly Advent devotional guide here!