Christmas is a time of the year for spending time with family, giving gifts, giving thanks, and generally having a wonderful time. However, it’s also a time of the year where a huge amount of stuff is simply thrown away and wasted, which isn’t good for the environment.

As we become more environmentally-conscious, we need to think of ways to make Christmas more ‘green.’ Here are a few ideas.

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Wrap it up.

Wrapping paper is one of the easiest things to make more eco-friendly stuff. While some traditional wrapping paper can be recycled easily, the shiny, sparkly stuff can’t. Avoid buying this type of paper, or if you receive a present wrapped in it, unwrap it carefully so you can fold the paper away and use it again. If you want to take it a step further, you can wrap your presents in plain brown paper.

If you’re recycling wrapping paper, make sure there’s no sticky tape left on it. Tape can’t be reused or recycled, and paper with tape on it won’t be either. You can tear or cut away parts of the paper that have tape on them before you put it in the recycling bin, or use string or ribbon if you want to go all-out with reusable materials.

Christmas tree

Christmas trees are already pretty green (they’re trees), but there are ways to make your tree even more eco-friendly. Chopping millions of trees down, and then just letting them die before throwing them away isn’t exactly good for the environment!

For a better option, you could pick up an artificial tree that might last years and years, or if you’re really wedded to the idea of a real tree, buy a Christmas tree in a pot and plant it in your garden after Christmas. Then, when next year rolls around, you can simply put it back in the pot and reuse it. If you don’t have a garden, but would like to do this, you may be able to hire a tree that will then be replanted somewhere else after the holiday.

If your Christmas tree does die, all isn’t lost. Some beach conservation organizations use dead Christmas trees as a barrier to sand dune erosion. Take a look in your local area and see if you can donate yours.

Cracking crackers

Christmas crackers are super fun and a Christmas dinner tradition for many people, but they’re not always recycling-friendly due to their plastic content. Fortunately, many parts of a Christmas cracker are recyclable. You can pop the paper hats, jokes, and even the cardboard tube itself into the recycling bin. Just make sure you don’t buy crackers that are sparkly or glittery, as like the equivalent wrapping paper, this material can’t be recycled.

You could even make your own Christmas crackers if you’d like, and replace the plastic toys that often end up in the bin before the end of dinner with sweets or a small token.