Our District

Eco Christmas tips

Take the waste of Christmas and save money while sharing the joy…

This year we asked people on our Sustainable Communities Kāpiti Facebook page to offer their top tips for enjoying the festive season while taking care of people and the planet. Thanks to Fiona Mitchell-Robb, Naomi Shephard, Tinker Belle, Awhina Rawiri, Anna-Maria O'Brien, Amy Ardern, Diane Turner, Gina McKenzie-Lodge, Lauren Appleton, Rachel Benefield for your inspiring suggestions.

photo by Fiona Mitchell-Robb

Share time as a family. It's free. Together we make our decorations, Xmas cards, labels, presents and wrapping paper. We reuse and recycle all that we can. Share the knowledge gained with your friends. Fiona Mitchell-Robb

Make decorations to hang on tree eg. spray small pinecones gold or silver; glue coffee beans on foam balls (lovely smell). Naomi Shephard 

Not purchasing new gifts! I love anything old/vintage, some things must have amazing stories to tell....if only the things could talk. Share some second hand love this Christmas. Tinker Belle 

Replant laterals from your tomato plants into a pot and gift it to family and friends as Xmas presents. Tomatoes thrive in our kiwi summer. Awhina Rawiri

I've been potting up small lavender bush seedlings - my little idea is that once the lavender flowers you place it near the plants that need pollinating in your veggie garden.  Because the bees love lavender those are my gifts! Anna-Maria O'Brien

Doing a secret Santa with our group of friends so you only have to do one present each & it can be a better present than lots of small, random tat! Also making the presents homemade & involving the kids! Amy Ardern

Wrap your gifts in boomerang shopping bags. The wrapping that keeps on giving long after the festive season is over. Diane Turner

Handmade useful gifts or food wrapped in dish towels, towels or reusable bags. Gift your time to family and friends, not stuff. Invite them for coffee. Go for a walk. Help out. Go on a litter walk together. Make a new tradition. Kindness is a long-lasting and greatly transferable gift. Gina McKenzie-Lodge

A no plastic presents rule for the kids at Christmas, recycling wrapping paper or using kids art as wrapping paper, a growing Christmas tree rather than cut or plastic, home baking (packaging etc.) and buying ingredients in bulk from Bin Inn, upcycling and regifting things, making Christmas presents, shopping for presents at second hand shops, making Christmas decorations, giving an experience as a gift (ie trip to the zoo on the train etc.) Lauren Appleton

Make chutney! Rachel Pfeffer

A jar of lollies filled up at the Bin Inn (weigh your jar first so you just pay for lollies). Anything from Fair Trade... great kaupapa, it’s all plastic free and good stuff. 2nd hand or new books are a lovely gift... thoughtful inscriptions and handmade bookmarks always a nice touch. Homemade Edmonds gingernut cookies in upcycled tins. Just paint 'em a pastel colour and add a white star and trim you've nailed it. Stay glitter free... it's a microbead masquerading as glamour. For the practical, non-reading, on a diet sorts... bamboo toothbrushes, a reusable drink bottle and a big hug. Rachel Benefield


Here's our orginal Eco-Christmas tips list:


  • Locally made.
  • Recycled and second hand, take a look on Trade Me.
  • Rechargeable batteries for those Christmas toys and gadgets.
  • Living plants.
  • Trade Aid.
  • World Vision, Oxfam Unwrapped or Givealittle vouchers.
  • Cloth shopping bags, lunch wraps and stainless steel drink bottles to help others reduce disposable packaging use.

Be creative:

  • Recycled Secret Santa: re-gift perfectly good ‘stuff’ that doesn’t get used and may be of interest to someone else.
  • Cut down on multiple present purchases by assembling gift baskets for entire families.
  • Make your own voucher and give your time or plan an experience as a gift, i.e. gardening, a picnic etc.
  • Use Freecycle
  • Make your gifts such as chutneys, jams, ginger bread, body scrubs, infused olive oil,  cleaning products.
  • Create a Reverse Advent Calendar, each day leading up to Christmas put something in a basket or hamper to donate to a local charity a few days before Christmas.

Think about packaging:

  • Take reusable shopping bags when shopping for presents.
  • Avoid glossy and metallic wrapping paper which cannot be recycled.
  • Make your own wrapping paper from newsprint  - great for children
  • Use twine, flax or fabric ribbons instead of tape (which is non-recyclable).
  • Present gifts wrapped in fabric, or in bags or boxes that can be reused.
  • Look for present options with no packaging.

Decorations and cards:

  • Send electronic Christmas cards.
  • Make your own cards.
  • Make decorations from recycled paper and card.
  • Save your decorations from year to year.
  • Cut up old Christmas cards for tags for presents next year. Save reusable items like wrapping paper, ribbons and gift bags to use again next year.


An Eco Christmas tree:

  • Buy a living native Christmas tree in a pot to use year after year plant, or plant it in the garden later on.
  • Grow your own native Christmas tree ready for December each year.
  • Build your own driftwood or cardboard tree.


Christmas Celebrations:

  • Plan ahead and avoid plastic/throw away tableware.  
  • Recycling left-overs into new recipes, with inspiration and ideas from  Love Food Hate Waste