I struggle with the overwhelming opulent consumerism of Christmas, and I know I am not alone. Whether we are cutting down perfectly good trees to decorate, cooking enough to feed a village, or lavishly wrapping endless plastic toys, there is not much that’s eco-friendly about Christmas.

I’m here to tell you, you have options. Some of them will even save you money!

Here are my favourite five eco-friendly Christmas hacks for the holiday season.

1. Op Shopping Santa

My family created a new holiday tradition a few years ago. Instead of buying endless gifts for each other, we now only buy one as a ‘Secret Santa’.

Two years ago, we took the idea one step further. Gifts now have to come from a charity shop.

It’s amazing the bargains to be had at a charity shop and the best news is, if you don’t like your present you simply donate it back and support people in need.

That’s both win/win AND the spirit of Christmas all rolled into one!

Chris Pye Op Shop Shirt 5 Eco Friendly Christmas Hacks

2. Bring Back Handmade

If our family gifts DON’T come from a charity shop, they have to be handmade.

Look in any parent’s treasure box and you will find the faded handmade offerings their children have made over the years. 


These are the things we covet – not store-bought trinkets. 


If you are a baker, make cookies; a jammer, jars of marmalade; or a woodturner, personalised Christmas decorations. 


Such things are priceless because they simply can’t be bought. They also reduce our needless consumption.

3. Give Gifts With Meaning

What if you aren’t good at making STUFF? Well, rather than buying plastic gifts in plastic packaging, why not give gifts with real value?

The profit from this jar of honey helps feed threatened sun bears in Borneo

This loom helps a woman in Sri Lanka create her own business

This wheelchair is akin to giving freedom to someone with a disability

And this turtle necklace comes with an app to track your very own adopted turtle.

When it comes to kids, you may not want to wean them off traditional gifts all at once, but a gift with meaning has deeper educational value if we want to instill kindness and environmental awareness in the next generation.

Turtle Necklace 5 Eco Friendly Christmas Hacks

4. Offset Your Travel

Christmas is a time for getting together with family. That often means jumping on a plane, even though air travel is one of the biggest emitters of CO2 on this planet.

A return flight from Brisbane to Tasmania uses half a tonne of CO2 per person and a return flight from Los Angeles to London uses over three tonnes per person.

“But I have to go see my family!” I hear you exclaim.

If you can’t avoid the travel, you CAN balance you environmental footprint and offset travel by donating to a charity which plants trees on your behalf. 


I recommend Regrow Borneo because this ‘boots on the ground’ project is in a place I love, but a quick Google search might uncover something closer to your heart or home.
Regrow Borneo

5. Shop Local and in Season

Christmas just wouldn’t be the same without tasty treats, and the closer your food is to the source, the tastier it is.

When you plan your menu this Christmas, consider how far your food has travelled. This is a concept called Food Miles, and I made this  award-winning movie about the concept a decade or so back.

If you buy seafood from local reputable fisheries, and fruit and veg from a local producer (like my friends Mick and Kelly at Good Harvest), your purchases will be tastier, more nutritious AND better for the environment.

Eco-friendly Christmas Hacks for All

This holiday season, we don’t have to buy into the myth that the value of Christmas is measured in economic spend.

Instead, we can gauge the success of the season by the love and respect we share with friends, family and the planet we call home.

Please share your own environmental Christmas hacks!

About the Author

Sarah Pye is a nature and wildlife nerd. When she’s not writing or teaching, she can be found outdoors… camping, kayaking, exploring or walking with her dog Gypsy.

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