9 Tips for a Zero Waste Christmas

The Holidays are a fun time of year: delicious food, workplace socials, gift giving, decorating our homes. The aftermath of the festivities can be overwhelming, including increased piles of rubbish and recycling on Boxing day. Whether you hire cleaners to get rid of the excess waste, buy extra pre-paid bags or take an expensive trip to the dump, this pile of waste costs you in time or money, if not both. Not only does it cost you, but it costs the earth, literally. Much of the waste will be put into landfills. And most recycling programmes in NZ have a high carbon footprint, as it gets shipped overseas for processing.
Here are 9 ways you can aim for a zero waste, or at least a less wasteful holiday.
fabric wrapped
Fabric-wrapped Pressies, image by A Pair & A Spare

Creative wrapping. Don’t overspend on Christmas Wrap. Save money & waste by recycling newspaper, cardboard food containers or plain paper as wrapping. These can be thrown into the green compost bin. If you’re crafty, use fabric cut-offs as wrapping and ribbon!

Bulk bin foods: Swap a supermarket run for a day at the market & bulk bin store to source your baking ingredients & fresh produce without packaging. It often saves money & supports local growers. Try visiting a Bin Inn or if you’re strapped for time, order directly to your door from anywhere in NZ at GoodFor.

Homemade basics: another way to cut down of food packaging waste is to home cook basics, like pie crust & crackers for platters. It takes a bit more time, but the result is usually a more delicious, cost-effective solution. Try this gourmet gf & df seed cracker recipe by Jo Elwin.

Glad rags. When thinking about where to find a frock or suit for an end of year function or wedding, consider borrowing from a friend or looking at secondhand options, from places like Recycle Boutique. This will save money, packaging and credit helps against the growing wastage of the fast-fashion market. Grab your satchel and head over to your local Recycle Boutique.

Bottled-Up. When considering your drink of choice, if you want something a little more special, try sourcing beer or cider from a local brewery that sells on-tap into a reusable vessel, like Wellington’s quirky fermentery, Whistling Sisters.

Artisan gifts. Instead of going to large chain outlets, which spend lots of effort to package and brand their shopping experience, try sourcing artisan made products at local markets, like hand-rolled vegan fig salami at the Hawke’s Bay Farmer’s Market.

Invisible gifts. For a special treat, consider giving a meal voucher or spa gift card. Often you can purchase these online and have the voucher e-mailed, so it creates absolutely zero waste. A great gift for family friends is a My Food Bag voucher, which is a delicious, low waste option.

Summer Christmas Wreath, image by Bloglovin


Decking Freshly. Skip the plastic garland and use fresh-cut greenery for a more authentic and eco-friendly vibe. Fresh flowers are happy, festive and can go into the green bin on boxing day. This how-to gives tip on making gorgeous summery Christmas wreaths. Also, try home-made ornaments like these cinnamon scented beauties.

Bubble & Squeak. Plan ahead to use up your Boxing Day leftovers with Jamie O’s scrummy fry-up.

Don’t wait to think about the piles of wastage you might create until you’re already staring at them. Front-foot the Christmas clean-up and save yourself time on Boxing Day by planning ahead now.

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