News Treehugger Voices How to Use Your Garden for a Sustainable Christmas Skip the stores and 'shop' your backyard instead for beautiful and useful natural materials. By Elizabeth Waddington Elizabeth Waddington Facebook LinkedIn Writer, Permaculture Designer, Sustainability Consultant University of St Andrews (MA) Elizabeth has worked since 2010 as a freelance writer and consultant covering gardening, permaculture, and sustainable living. She has also written a number of books and e-books on gardens and gardening. Learn about our editorial process Published December 20, 2022 03:00PM EST Fact checked by Haley Mast Fact checked by Haley Mast LinkedIn Harvard University Extension School Haley Mast is a freelance writer, fact-checker, and small organic farmer in the Columbia River Gorge. She enjoys gardening, reporting on environmental topics, and spending her time outside snowboarding or foraging. Topics of expertise and interest include agriculture, conservation, ecology, and climate science. Learn about our fact checking process Share Twitter Pinterest Email StefaNikolic / Getty Images News Environment Business & Policy Science Animals Home & Design Current Events Treehugger Voices News Archive Those of us who are lucky enough to have a garden are at a huge advantage when it comes to making more sustainable decisions in our lives. Especially in the holiday season, it can be fun and useful to think about how we can use our outside spaces and the resources that they provide to get ready for a more eco-friendly Christmas. A Sustainable Dinner One of the most obvious ways that we might use our gardens for a sustainable Christmas is to grow our own food for our festivities. Sadly, Christmas is often a time of excess, and that excess comes at a cost to people and the planet, generating massive amounts of waste. Rather than buying ingredients for a festive feast, a little foresight and planning can allow us to grow at least some of those ingredients at home. Naturally, in a domestic garden, you won't necessarily be able to rear your own Christmas turkey or livestock for other meat dishes. But even if you are not ready to have a vegetarian or vegan option, you can certainly still consider growing side dishes such as potatoes, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, and other vegetables in your garden. If you want to eat a homegrown Christmas dinner, you need to start thinking about this in spring and summer. If you did not think about this earlier in the year, you will need to wait until next year for the satisfaction of a homegrown feast. It is still well worth planning for the next growing season, so that you can reduce consumption next year. Another thing that you can still think about, even if you did not plan ahead, is how to reduce food waste from the Christmas excesses. Start a composting system if you don't already have one in your garden. Leftovers can be used up in a wide range of ways. But whatever is left should go into your garden, to create cyclical systems that make it easier for you to maintain fertility in your growing areas and grow more food in the future. Sustainable Decorations Anastasiia Krivenok / Getty Images Another thing that I like to think about at this time of year is what I can bring in from the garden to decorate inside my home. Looking around, you may see a range of natural materials—evergreen foliage, berries, perhaps some dried seed heads or flowers—that you can use to bring some festive cheer into your living areas. All too often, we rely on environmentally harmful plastic decorations, such as artificial trees, tinsel, and baubles, to decorate inside our homes. But by forgoing these, and choosing to use only materials from our gardens, perhaps with a few twinkling LED lights, we can create a beautiful, rustic, tasteful, and timeless feel, while still making the holiday feel special. Sustainable Cards and Wrapping Using natural plant materials from your garden, you can also avoid buying plastic-coated cards and non-recyclable wrapping paper. I never buy cards or wrapping paper. Instead I make use of reclaimed materials, along with natural materials from my garden, to send festive greetings and to wrap gifts. ArtistGNDphotography / Getty Images With a little imagination, you can soon discover that there are plenty of ways to create artistic cards and wrap gifts using, at least in part, natural materials from your garden. For example, you can use plant materials for pigments and dyes, to make baskets, parcels, or gift boxes, even to make your own natural fiber paper. And natural fiber twine is a good replacement for ribbons to wrap everything up with a neat bow. Sustainable Gifts A garden can also potentially provide you with the gifts to wrap. "Shop" your own garden for edible produce that you can turn into a range of edible treats for your loved ones, such as jams, jellies, and other preserves, herb blends, tea blends, beverages, baked goods, and more. Collect seeds to create collections to give to other gardeners you know. Propagate plants to give away. Put together plant collections tailored to the recipient for window boxes, etc. Use natural materials to craft a wide range of objects or artworks using plants growing in your garden. There is almost no end to the options if, rather than shopping in stores or online, you use your imagination and shop this Christmas from your very own garden.