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How not to get wrapped up in plastic this Christmas

From decorations to prayer, here are some ideas to help you take action on plastic waste this Christmas.

Written by Adam Aucock | 30 Nov 2023

Four advent candles in front of a Christmas tree. Image: Max Beck/Unsplash

Christmas is a time of celebration, but how can we reduce our plastic waste in the festive season? Image: Max Beck/Unsplash

Christmas is a time for celebrating God’s gift to the world, his son Jesus. It is a time for communities to unite, families to gather and churches to worship and pray. It can also be a time of waste. A time of excess packaging and uneaten leftovers, of single-use decorations and plastic-lined wrapping paper.

This is not God’s plan. As Reverend Dennis Nthenge put it when he joined us recently at the plastic treaty talks in Nairobi:

‘God does not do waste…  After we've gone wayward… he gives us a second chance because he's not wasting us, because every one of us is useful to him.’

So as we celebrate the birth of the one who redeems us, how can we follow in his footsteps and have a less wasteful, but equally joyful, Christmas?

Seasonal fun without the plastic

Here are some fun, family activities that get your creative muscles working and reduce your need for single-use plastics:

Christmas cards

If you’re looking for a pre-holiday activity, you could forgo mass-produced, often plastic-wrapped or -lined, Christmas cards and make your own. Everyone can get involved in this activity and it gives your Christmas greetings a personal touch.

Christmas crackers

Ensure your Christmas goes off with a bang by making your own crackers. There are plenty of plastic-free kits available online. The best part is that, instead of the usual plastic toys that inevitably end up in the bin by Boxing Day, you can fill your crackers with meaningful gifts and actually funny jokes.


Decking the halls can often mean festooning them in plastic. But here are plenty of alternatives to plastic decorations that you can create. Tree decorations, paper snowflakes and wreaths (including this Brussel sprout Christmas wreath – yes, you read that right) can all be made at home without any need for plastic.



A person working on a Christmas wreath. Image: Hillary Ungson/Unsplash

A person making a Christmas wreath. Image: Hillary Ungson/Unsplash

Plastic-free Christmas dinner

Our supermarket food shops are a huge source of our household plastic waste all year round. While we might remember to use our ‘bags for life’, many of the products we buy still come wrapped in plastic that’s difficult or impossible to recycle. And there’s often more waste at Christmas thanks to our food traditions that lead to over-catering and weeks of leftovers.

So when you’re shopping for your Christmas dinner, try to avoid as much plastic as you can. Loose vegetables are often available at larger stores or local greengrocers. Baking your own puddings and cakes can be a great way to avoid the plastic pots and films of their shop-bought equivalents.

If you’ve not had your crafting crave filled by these suggestions, you could make homemade edible Christmas tree decorations or even a muffin tin advent calendar.

Gingerbread men being decorated with colourful sprinkles. Image: PixaBay/Pexels

Gingerbread being decorated with colourful sprinkles. Image: PixaBay/Pexels

Gifting thoughtfully

‘For us as Christians, we know Jesus came to give us life and life to the full… ultimately satisfaction isn’t found in the things we consume. It’s found in our relationships, primarily in our relationship with God, but also our relationships with each other, ourselves and the wider world.’ Ruth Valerio, Global Advocacy & Influencing Director, Tearfund.

We live in a world where plastic is added to almost everything – from clothes to furniture, cosmetics to toys. That’s not to say all of these are bad, but we should be conscious of how much we’re buying and eventually throwing away, particularly items that are only fashionable for a season such as clothes. So, could you try to only buy gifts that your loved ones really need and that will still be around for many Christmases to come? Think about conscious gift ideas like a reusable cup, homemade cakes or even pre-loved clothes or electrical items.

Plastic-free wrapping

Many wrapping papers, tapes and present decorations contain plastic, only get used once and can’t be recycled. Plastic-free and recyclable wrapping paper is increasingly easy to come by in many major supermarkets. Many refill or eco shops, including ones online, sell certified recyclable, paper-based tapes.

If you want to go the extra distance and can contain your Christmas morning excitement, open your presents carefully enough that you can reuse the wrapping paper for future gifts. If you use string instead of tape, the whole lot can be stored away and brought out next year!

The meaning of Christmas

As Christians, we believe that God takes an active, caring role in our world. Plastic waste impacts those living in poverty most: mismanaged waste poses an increased flooding risk, and threatens people’s health through open burning or the spread of disease. We know God doesn’t play favourites and that he cares for these people as deeply as he does anyone. So in this Christmas season, remember those most impacted by plastic pollution in your prayers. Have a look at our Rubbish Campaign prayer resources for more ideas.

If you’re looking for other ways to cut down your household plastic waste, check out this blog on everyday plastic-free swaps.

Written by

Written by  Adam Aucock

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