Planning an Ethical & Zero Waste Christmas

Photo by Annie Spratt

Holidays have increasingly gotten away from their original meanings and become more inclined toward materialism and wastefulness. They’re suppose to be about the truly important things.

  • Spending quality time with loved ones
  • Celebrating the abundance and good fortune present in our lives
  • Sharing our time, space, food and laughs.
  • Making memories that are worth more than anything you could ever wrap up in sparkly colored paper, manufactured just to be thrown away.

The cozy, heart centered, togetherness that once ruled these holidays has been pushed aside for more shallow, meaningless formalities. This is especially true for the gift giving holidays. Instead of gifts being from the heart, pure acts of kindness and love, they’ve turned into obligations and competitions.

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In our consumerist society, we’re opting more for the quantity rather than the quality. Giving one another gifts that were never asked for, are unneeded and will be pushed aside and forgotten about in a matter of months. Opting for cheaply made products because the less we spend per item, the more we can buy. After all, stuff equals happiness, right? *rolls eyes*

These cheap items have a higher price though. One that isn’t directly seen on the surface. To get the lower prices they’re unethically sourced and made with dangerous toxins. Leaving scars on our world as a whole with their unsustainable and wasteful manufacturing. They cause harm to our fellow humans and creatures and to the Earth we call home.

We can shift this, though. Through mindfulness, we can give our loved ones gifts that are meaningful and brilliant to them AND positive on the rest of the world. Instead of buying them tons of presents that will be pushed aside, broken and forgotten about within a year, there are steps we can take to make sure we’re truly providing them with thoughtful and useful things that really MEAN something. To them and to the world. After all, every dollar you spend is a vote in either a positive or negative direction of the world.


Knowing who you’re buying for and what they would like is the first step in making positive consumer purchases for the holidays. Remember, you DON’T have to buy something for every single person you know. If you’d really like to get EVERYONE something, people love baked goods. Food is a game winner nearly every time.

Start by listing out everyone you plan on buying for. I find apps like Trello(af) especially helpful in these sorts of things. They help you to stay organized in a simple and efficient fashion and can be carried around with you on your phone so you always have access to it.

Next, I would start listing things separately that are thoughtful, practical, positive and preferably zero waste. This could be diy self care things such as:

  • Candles
  • Bath bombs
  • Chapstick
  • Etc.

Put together kitchen things like:

  • Homemade vanilla extract
  • Steel straws
  • Beeswax wrap
  • Reusable paper towels

Gift cards for:

  • Things they can pick out themselves
  • Experiences instead of stuff.
  • Digital items are particularly handy for your book or music lovers as well as the video gamers.
  • Subscriptions are awesome, fun and just keep on giving.

Ethically sourced clothing is not only useful and practical but often offers up unique pieces that are fashionable and attached to great causes. These clothes have a positive vibe that they carry with them, radiating into and from the individual who wears them and inspiring everyone around them with their positive impact. They’re often much better quality compared to your fast fashion alternatives as well, meaning they last MUCH longer.

There’s an ethical or zero waste alternative to pretty much anything you’re looking to get and/or give. It just takes a little bit of research to find them and they’re becoming increasingly popular and easier to get a hold of. If you simply CAN’T find an alternative, opt for quality, well made items that are going to last for a long time.

Here’s some more ethical gift ideas.

Once you have a general idea of what sorts of items you’re looking to gift, start paying attention to the people on your list. If they mention something in passing that they would like or need, make a note under their name (this is where such an app on your phone is especially useful). You can take the list of items you came up with and divvy them out to your list as they seem fitting.

Our loved ones don’t need a ton of gifts each. A couple of needed and desired QUALITY items are going to make much more of an impact on them AND the world. Much of this stuff is great for the holiday gift exchange games as well. Last year, my grandmother made a box of baked goods that had everyone fighting over it during a game!

Side note: Essential Oils are a healthy gift that pleases everyone in some form or fashion!

Don’t forget the wrapping

Wrapping presents is a wonderful opportunity to exercise the creativity that opens our sacral chakra! Instead of buying the commercial paper that’s going to immediately be torn apart and thrown away, consider alternatives. Scarves make great reusable wrappings that double as an extra gift! Newspaper or old maps give them a great aesthetic. Reusable bags come in all shapes and sizes and have numerous uses. Brown package paper is recyclable, often eco friendly and offers up endless decorating possibilities!

Decorate them with stamps, nature, ribbons or anything else you may have lying around! It’s a fun project (especially with kids) and people love the creativity put into making things different from the same ole thing they’re use to seeing from everyone every year! Don’t forget to recycle what you end up with instead of throwing it in the trash!

Planning an ethical, zero waste holiday is about simplifying. It comes off as complicated on the surface but only requires a little thought in a certain direction. Through spreading this kind of positivity, you’re not only bringing a great holiday to your loved ones, but you’re spreading the ethical consumer seed that’s going to help us continue to push the world in a more positive and sustainable direction. Creating celebrations truly worth celebrating because they benefit the entire world. You can really feel good about that!

Let’s be friends!

More about Savannah

I help ambitious soul seekers balance and uplift their energy so that they can conquer all that stands in their way of the life they desire. Some would call me a Life Coach but I'm so much more than that. I change lives by supporting, helping and connecting great people so that together we can all make the world a better place.