Sustainable Santa

Thursday 22nd of November 2012

POSTED BY: Rebecca Goodwin, Business Development Manager

Christmas is a consumers’ paradise. So how do you have Christmas without leaving an environmental footprint the size of the North Pole?

Here are a couple of ideas to help you get in the ‘green’ Christmas spirit.


I just love setting up the Christmas tree. There hasn’t been a single year where my tree hasn’t been decorated by 1 December. Although some households go without a tree – that recommendation won’t be coming from me!

So…..fake or real?


Fake plastic trees tend to be re-used for a number of years, but eventually find their waste to landfill where they don’t breakdown.  When you are ready to get a new tree, consider donating the old one to charity.

Real trees are a good option, but they have a foot print too. The best option is to go for a potted tree that can be reused year after year or planted in the garden after its use.


The Tree

The lure of the Kmart’s 100 piece decoration set for $9 makes it attractive to buy new decorations year after year… decorations this year, gold decorations next year, red decorations the year after that.

Why not keep things simple and:

  1. Buy quality decorations that will last for years (I still have a Christmas decoration my parents brought for my first Christmas! (Somehow, I don’t think Kmart’s decorations will still be on trees in 30 years-time). Myer and David Jones have some beautiful quality decorations.
  2. Make your own decorations.

We’ve pinned our favourite sustainable Christmas decorations on Pinterest to provide some inspiration.


The table

When decorating the table, use tablecloths and napkins that can be wiped down or washed (e.g. fabric) and used again. Many moons ago my Mum brought some Christmas themed fabric from Spotlight and made a tablecloth and placemats. She has done this about three times; so each year we can pick which one we want to use – and which one best suits that year’s theme!

To create that Christmas feel – your table might need some extra jazz. Try:

  • Decorate with pine cones (pained silver or gold)
  • Use old decorations. A large vase filled with red baubles looks great.
  • Make a Christmas tree out of an old newspaper (blog post to come on that if you have no idea what I’m talking about).
  • Decorate your table with a little sustainable gift for everyone to take home and enjoy for years to come (e.g. a little ceramic pot with herbs or strawberries)


Number 1 rule: don’t forget to take your own bags when you go shopping!

Think about what your buying!

Even if you want to buy your loved ones a multitude of things, buy presents that:

  • Have minimal packaging
  • Are local produce (i.e. they haven’t travelled half way across the world)
  • Have been produced using sustainable practices or contained recycled materials
  • Are made to last past boxing day
  • Are battery free

Pull a name out of hat

To reduce the amount you have to buy (and consume) you could get together with friends and family pre-Christmas and draw a name out of a hat. That way you only have to buy one quality present and will receive one quality present back.

Give an experience

Instead of buying a tangible gift, try giving an experience as a gift instead. Options like:

  • Tickets to see their favourite band or show
  • A massage
  • Dinner at a nice restaurant
  • Cooking lesson

There are loads of experience gifts at

Gift cards

Gift cards can also be a good way to ensure your gift doesn’t end up in landfill on Boxing Day! The Rockingham Shopping Centre has introduced biodegradable gift cards – I’m sure we’ll see these popping up in more places soon.

A green gift?

What about a gift to help someone become greener? What about a kitchen garden, a potted plant, compost bin or worm-farm? Or a reusable water bottle or keep-cup makes a cheap and easy gift. I came across some funky designs in Kitchen Warehouse last weekend.


Re-gifting is OK! If you receive something you can’t use or already have there is nothing wrong with giving it to someone who can use it. Just create a box to store gifts you do not need or want and search it each time you need a gift – the perfect one might be there!

Hit the markets

Check out the local markets for homemade finds or make your own. Think jams, plants, biscuits, jewellery, calendars or a framed painting by a local artist.



E-cards are a great way of saving money and trees. If you prefer to send cards the traditional way, go for ones that support a charity.


Store brought Christmas paper might look great under the tree on Christmas morning, but it will no sooner be turned into a mountain of ripped paper.

"It loooked nice under the tree 5 minutes ago"

Brown paper can be easily recycled and can look fantastic with a tiny bit of effort.



Gabs, here in our office, gets out the red and green paint every time her daughter feels like painting. She’s been keeping a stockpile of paintings to wrap this year’s Christmas presents!

Better still, you could skip wrapping all together by putting presents into a Christmas stocking or placing in a pretty box that can be reused.

If you do buy wrapping paper, avoid glossy foil or metallic wrapping as this type is very difficult to recycle.

Gift tags

Cut up the picture side of last year’s cards or calendar and turn them into gift tags. You could get real fancy and use pinking scissors that create a zig-zag effect.


Christmas is always over-catered. Even though we eat enough that we have to roll out the door, there is still always loads left!

Instead of ditching leftovers – freeze them. I turned last years left over roast beef into kebabs and froze them – they served as a great ‘quick’ work night meal.

Where possible, buy local food; rather than food shipped from interstate or overseas.


So get green with my sustainable Christmas tips and do your bit for the plant.

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