4 plastic free zero waste advent calenders

Filed in Blog by on November 29, 2010 11 Comments
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Ditch the plastic this Christmas with zero waste advent calendars

Ditch the plastic this Christmas with zero waste advent calendars

It’s nearly December and I’m sure those who are far more organised than me have their Christmas under wraps.

For those of you who are last minute organisers, I wanted to share some ideas for zero waste advent calendars.

I was standing at a checkout the other day and advent calendars were stacked high. Each wrapped in plastic, with cheap chocolate behind the windows and resting in plastic moulding of the type 7 variety.


If you want chocolate then go for something decent, rather than something made from lots of sugar and chemicals. Green and Blacks have a lovely organic cotton advent calendar complete with a Green & Black’s miniature bar for each pocket.

green and blacks advent calender

We’ve got a similar calendar gifted to us by Grandma Green. Instead of chocolate, each pocket is filled with a small wooden decoration that we put onto our tree.


Wooden advent calendars have dinky drawers or doors for you to fill with treats. These are great if you want to get away from a chocolatey high. You can fill with tiny trinkets or even IOU coupns for something fun to do with the kids such a making decorations or choose a story before bedtime. Take a look at this one for inspiration.

wooden advent calender with doors


If you want a traditional nativity, I love this one from Letterbox. The calender is a wall hanging with pockets. In each pocket there are velcro backed figures for you to gradaully build up the nativity scene.

fabric advent calender with pockets and nativity scene


If you’re baulking at the fact I’m suggesting you spend over £20 on an advent calender then there are heaps of ideas around the internet for making your own.

Bubbly Funk has fashioned an amazing idea from matchboxes
You could have a go at origami as shown on this lovely idea at homemade gifts
Or share our simplest of ideas which is a midnight blue ribbon with 24 (well 21 actually, as we celebrate the Solstice) gold stars running up the length of it. Pinned to the ribbon we have a sheeps wool angel and every night she moves up a star until she reaches the top. I made it when Little Miss Green was about 3 and its remained a favourite ever since.

Finally, if your family won’t talk to you unless they have a ‘traditional’ chocolate advent calendar, then opt for the fairtrade chocolate version from Divine and remember to recycle the cardboard after use!

I’m sure you are all bursting with ideas; share your zero waste advent calendar ideas below!

About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (11)

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  1. I have a recycled felt calendar made in my state from Etsy.com. I LOVE it! I fill it with my own organic candies or other treats.

    Also if you see this in the next couple of hours I’m having a Green Holiday Blog Carnival this would be great for. If you don’t see it in time the post will go live tomorrow (in the US) and you can add the link to a Linky.

  2. Jane says:

    ‘Traditional’ chocolate Advent calendar? Hmm how many years ago did those start? I like the material ones with pockets – and I’ve seen some with a lovely home-baked and decorated biscuit in each pocket. Now that would be fun to make. Not sure how crispy the biscuits would keep but looks good in the magazine!

  3. Julie Day says:

    I don’t have an advent calendar anymore, not for the last few years as most are made with dairy which I can no longer eat. Might think about doing own, perhaps put on the Xmas tree. Who knows. Maybe a bit too old for one now I’m 40?

  4. Jen CleanBin says:

    Great post with really practical ideas! I love the thought of putting IOU coupons behind each door instead of plain old chocolate every day. Thanks for the reminder to get the advent calendar up and running.

  5. Alyson says:

    never had to worry about such things, dont celebrate christmas! So no stress no worries and NO DEBTS. And the children look forward spending a day in town during the holidays and having lunch

  6. LJayne says:

    We have zero waste reusable advent calendars for all the kids. A felt christmas tree one where every day you add a decoration from the relevant pocket – came from Save the Children a few years back. A cardboard nativity one from Phoenix Cards where everyday you add a person/animal to the scene. And a magnetic nativity one that I picked up this year from Lakeland on the same theme.

    We don’t do chocolate ones for the children, even in the days before my zero waste campaign we never did. I prefer to have it on the tree from later in the month and I only buy foil wrapped ones as I can recycle that.

  7. Condo Blues says:

    I’m more about the Advent countdown than eating 25 treats. I’ve always wanted an Advent Candle Calendar. It’s a tall taper candle marked with the days. You burn it each day until Christmas.

    I was going to make a chalkboard Advent Calendar until I had a flash of inspiration at the Thrift Store. I could just break out the colored chalk and use part of my chalkboard kitchen back splash as an Advent Calender. Zero Waste AND I don’t have to find a spot in my tiny house to store it after the holiday!

  8. Mrs Scrooge here, loving the idea of home-made and goodies in one time consuming neat package– but just as Alyson above, i save time and funds by using holidays to admire the decorations, the restless natives searching for their credit cards and the town budgets cutting down some of the hoopla.
    i have only seen one such advent calendar…it looked like a fine lesson in containment.
    if i trusted myself to eat–just one–one of these chocolates..i’d love to receive one. or make one for some-one.

  9. Jane says:

    Please post this info earlier next year to give more of us a chance to make one. I would like to make them for family and for school Christmas fairs.

  10. Mrs Green says:

    @Lisa @Retro Housewife Goes Green: Hi Lisa, your calendar sounds lovely; sorry I missed the carnival; it was my intention this year to take part in lots of them, but I never seemed to find the time to schedule many in!

    @Jane: That’s why ‘traditional’ was in inverted commas; I think people forget that a lot of ‘traditional’ things are infact modern! I have put shortbread into calendar pockets; they survived quite well…

    @Julie Day: You’re never too old for advent calendars 😉

    @Jen CleanBin: No worries Jen; hope you have a good advent!

    [email protected]Alyson: Good for you, Alyson; many of my friends no longer celebrate and they are much happier for it. We celebrate Yule instead, but LMG still likes some old Christmasy traditions 🙂

    @LJayne: sounds like you have some really lovely calendars lesley 🙂

    @Condo Blues: LOVE your chalk board idea. We’ve had tapers in the past; I really like them (but you have to remember to blow them out in time LOL!)

    @nadine sellers: Sounds like you’ve reached a great conclusion to the Christmas madness too, Nadine; happy December to you!

  11. I’m glad you were able to be apart of the carnival through the linky!

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