’Tis the (sustainable) season! Tips and tricks for a planet-friendly Christmas from Mitre 10

Everybody loves Christmas: presents, great food, gathering with friends and whānau under the tree.

But it’s usually not a very ‘green’ holiday. There’s a lot of waste associated with the season – just think of all the wrapping paper, used Christmas crackers, discarded decorations and unwanted gifts that make it to landfill from your household each year!

Luckily, Mitre 10 has collated a list of easy measures you can put in place to make both your gifting and your celebrations a touch more sustainable.


It’s always lovely receiving a gift – but often it comes with unintended environmental consequences. Too often, people end up receiving something they don’t want or need, and it makes it into the bin, along with glitter or foil wrapping paper that can’t be recycled. This year, try levelling up:

• Regifting: Make it a rule for this year’s extended family Secret Santa that you have to regift something you’ve been given. Maybe that ornate vase you hate will fit someone else’s aesthetic!

• Recycling/upcycling: Pimp up those old crates with some paint and turn them into a groovy bookshelf, or re-upholster a beloved, well-worn armchair. You’ll impress the recipient and divert from landfill in one fell swoop.

• Buying second-hand: There are so many treasures to be found in opshops around the country – why not go hunting for your pressies there?

• Bake or make it: An edible gift is a great sustainable option, because once it’s enjoyed, there’s no waste!

• Experiences, not things: Cut the wrapping paper waste altogether by gifting an experience rather than an item – think a yearly zoo pass, a posh yoga class or a dinner out. Or gift remembered experiences in the form of photos – a homemade calendar featuring pics of the grandkids is a lovely gift for grandparents.

• Acts of service: Consider gifting your time and energy to someone you love by creating homemade vouchers for acts of service, such as a day’s gardening, a paint job that’s been hanging over them or a deep spring clean.

• Plants and trees: The greenest gift you can give! Choose from the traditional poinsettia or Christmas lily or something a little more rewarding such as a citrus or fruit tree.

• Donation: Go selfless as well as sustainable by gifting a native tree through Trees That Count, or making a charitable donation in a loved one’s name.

• Gifts that last: If none of the above appeals, an old-fashioned gift is still a good option so long as you choose it with sustainability in mind. It’s much ‘greener’ to gift one good-quality item that will last years than to offer multiple small ‘throw away’ gifts.

Wrapping paper

Wrapping paper can be one of the top sources of waste at Christmas time. Here are some ways to hack the system:

• Reuse: Unwrap presents carefully –if possible – and save the paper for future use.

• Reduce: Try wrapping with less paper. Cut only what you need and use tape sparingly, and for distinctively shaped presents like bottles of wine, skip

the wrapping – it’s not keeping any secrets!

• DIY ‘Santa sacks’: Make your own pretty gift bags by sewing up a couple of squares of nice fabric and put presents inside them, then reuse the bags as many times as you can. Little homemade bags are great to use year-round, too, for wet clothes or as overnight bags.

• Brown paper with compostable string bows: If you must use wrapping paper, opt for something easily recycled or composted. Bonus if you can find compostable tape!

• Repurpose art: If you have young kids who bring home lots of ‘art’, this can be stylishly repurposed as a unique handmade wrapping paper for gifts!


As well as choosing more sustainable gifts and wrapping them more thoughtfully, you can make decorating your home for the festive season ‘greener’, too. Here’s how to do it:

• Choose a living tree: Why not opt for  that natural traditional fragrance in your home this year with a living Christmas tree. Keep this well-watered inside in summer, and then when heading into autumn transfer to a larger pot to keep it growing and in good health for the following year. Mitre 10 has two great options, listed on the right.

• Embrace bare beauty: Sometimes a green tree isn’t the greenest option – how about creating your own hanging Christmas tree out of sticks, pinecones and dried leaves and flowers and stringing them together in the shape ofa tree? It’s a great project for the kids.

• Mulch, mulch, mulch: If you prefer a traditional, real Christmas tree, we get it. But most Christmas tree growers will accept these back in January for mulching up. Don’t put your dead tree in landfill!

• Homemade decorations: Don’t

choose plastic or glitter-adorned decorations that you’re just going to throw out in a couple of years. Instead, opt for decorations you really love and have chosen thoughtfully, or make your own. Playdough or paper decorations made with the kids can become true family heirlooms.

• Christmas lights: Switch to solar or LED Christmas lights to save on energy.

• Other decorations: Opt for reusable advent calendars and ditch the plastic-filled Christmas crackers you’re just going to chuck out later – or make your own using recycled cardboard tubes.

• Food waste: Compost food scraps to save them from landfill, and don’t go overboard on the menu! No one wants to be eating ham two weeks after the

big day.

Go green this Christmas and celebrate more sustainably with Mitre 10.

Head in store or online for more inspiration. mitre10.co.nz/sustainability

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