Nightingale's Guide to a Zero-Waste Christmas

The holidays are officially HERE, and it's also a great time to become more proactive in addressing the waste that is generated around the festive season. With a bit of effort and some guaranteed fun time for the family, we can reduce our environmental impact so that we can enjoy what truly matters this holiday season– spending quality time with our loved ones.

It is also a great opportunity to introduce your kids to recycling (or teach them further if you have already been doing that, kudos to you!), by planning activities such as making crafts from scrap materials, upcycling, etc.,


  • Shopping: Plan ahead what you need to buy and what for. That way you can avoid buying excessive food and decorations that will sit in your pantry and storage respectively for months or even years.

  • Old holiday cards: Reuse old cards and make them into name tags for new gifts.

  • Decorating: Use natural resources or what you already have in the house: cinnamon, pine cones, pine needles, wooded clothespin, rosemary, thyme. Plus, they release that wonderful festive smell to the room! Dried flowers and dehydrated orange slices are also our favorites!

guide to shopping and celebrating zero waste


  • Skip the paper waste and send e-cards! They're FREE, and people would receive them right away. There are many sites that let you send a few cards for free, but charge a membership fee. Here's a collection of all the great ones that are TRULY FREE.

  • Homemade presents: Let your kids join in on this one! Homemade presents are so much more personal and fun to prepare: Cookies, massage vouchers, babysitting (for your mama friend), etc., and host a prize draw.

  • Give the gift of experiences that are 100% waste-free: Zoo/museum membership, movie tickets, etc. Imagine giving a child a toy vs. a membership to their favorite museum they can visit as often as they like for THE WHOLE YEAR. Here are 52 gift ideas you will love!

zero waste gift ideas


  • Avoid using disposable plates.

  • Get family to join in cleaning up.

  • Use washcloths [Product link] instead of paper napkins.

  • Instead of buying holiday decorations for your dinner table, use natural pine cones, leaves, branches, and evergreen boughs.

celebrating zero waste holiday


Your Christmas tree

  • Recycle at collection points throughout the country: A lot of them will pick up your trees for free. Simple. Google “Christmas tree recycling + your city”.

  • Bring them to a tree pick-up or composting location: Where they would be turned into wood chips & mulch which you can use around your landscape or add the chips to your compost pile. (Great to prevent weeds and add nutrients!)

  • Use as firewood next season: Chop up your Christmas tree & pile it on a raised rack and cover it with a tarp if outdoors to prevent rot.

  • Cut up the branches and add them to floral arrangements.

Gift wraps: Open them carefully with a pair of scissors and save them for the next gifting occasions.

Store excess food in reusable containers: mason jars, cloth bags. Divide them in small portions and freeze for convenient meal preps.

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