What does a sustainable Christmas look like?

Published Date
News Topic
Sustainability & Environment

For those wanting to minimise their environmental impact, this time of year can be very tricky to navigate whilst not feeling like a Christmas grinch! But don’t fret! We have put together an example of how you can have a sustainable Christmas, Hanukkah or any celebration day and you will barely notice the difference.


A single set of Christmas lights or fairy lights doesn’t generally consume too much electricity. For example, a set of Christmas lights with 300 bulbs may use around 6 watts. If you were to turn these on for 12 hours per day for every day in December, this would likely add less than $1 to your electricity bill.

However, this number is much higher if you have a large Christmas lights display or if you don’t have LEDs. To reduce the energy use and environmental impact of your Christmas lights, be sure to use timers and choose LED lights. If you want to power your lights with renewable energy, you can also purchase GreenPower through your electricity provider. To find out more about how to reduce your energy and water bills, check out our sustainability rebates.

Christmas Trees

Is using the same plastic Christmas tree every year better for the environment better than purchasing a real one? This is an age old debate for those looking to reduce their environmental impact during Christmas. Interestingly, the answer comes down to not only choosing ‘plastic or real’, but also how the tree is disposed of.

According to the Carbon Trust1, “if you have an artificial tree at home you would need to re-use it for at least 10 Christmases to keep its environmental impact lower than that of a real tree”. However, this assumes that your real tree is disposed of correctly (such as by converting it into wood chips) which reduces its carbon emissions by up to 80%.

Fortunately, Randwick City Council will pick up your real trees for you after Christmas! Just leave them on your kerb on the first green waste collection day of 2021.


Stuck for Christmas present ideas? Why not consider a voucher from a local restaurant or experience this year? Not only can this reduce our amount of waste going to landfill, but it will also help to support local businesses recovering from the impact of Covid19.

If you’re also looking for something extra, you can also check out our stallholders from last year’s Best Gift Market.


If your hosting this year’s Christmas meal, try choosing reusable plates and cutlery instead of single use plastics. Washing your dishes in a dishwasher can also reduce your energy and water use compared to hand washing.

If reusables aren’t an option for your meal, then non-plastic dinner ware (such as paper straws, sugarcane plates and wooden cutlery) is your best bet. Unfortunately, there are a lot of misleading or confusing labels applied to ‘sustainable’ single-use items, such as ‘biodegradable’ or ‘compostable’. As a general rule, if your single-use straw, plate or cutlery looks and feels like plastic, then it will likely not easily break down and will have the same long-lasting impact on land and marine life. This is still the case for ‘bio’ plastics which are made from plant-based materials (which is lower emissions) instead of petroleum-based materials.


If your trying to add some meat-free dishes to your Christmas meal, then googling ‘vegetarian Christmas recipes’ may be a good place to start. An eggplant parmigiana or a roasted butternut pumpkin may be your next family favourite for the holiday season.

By correctly disposing of your food waste you can further reduce your impact this Christmas. In March next year, Council is beginning its new waste collection service called ‘FOGO’ (which stands for Food Organics and Garden Organics). This new service will let you pop your food and garden waste in the same green lid bin. Check it out here.


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