Christmas decorations are next up in my How to Have a Sustainable Christmas series. One of my favourite things about this time of year is the decorations. Whether it’s in my home, at the shops, or in the street, I love how beautiful and festive everything looks. The fairy lights, stockings and Christmas trees all get me pretty excited for the big day. And this year I’ve been actively looking at ways in which I can create a more eco-friendly Christmas in my home. So if you’re looking to switch up your decorating routine this festive period, I’ve created this guide on sustainable Christmas decorations. There’ll be tips on picking the most eco-friendly Christmas tree, how to create a homemade wreath, plus how to use what’s already in your home to add some festive cheer.
Buy a Real Christmas Tree
As we become more conscious about the environmental impact that Christmas is causing to our planet, discussions around whether artificial trees or real trees are better for the environment, come to a head. The Cabon Trust shared some interesting facts with the Independent about this. A two-metre Christmas tree that is properly disposed of after use, has a carbon footprint of around 3.5kg of CO2. Where-as a two-metre Christmas tree made from plastic has a 40kg CO2 carbon footprint, more than ten times greater than the real tree. So when it comes to the numbers, a real tree does look like the better option, as long as it is disposed of properly. Many councils in the UK run a special recycling collection for these in January. The trees are then used for composting or shredded into chippings for parks and woodlands. Real potted Christmas trees can be planted outside ready for the following year.
Reuse your Artificial Christmas Tree
According to research undertaken in 2017, six million Christmas trees are thrown away each year. And 14% of those who opted for an artificial tree, said they would be throwing it away after one use. So if you do have an artificial tree already, please reuse it as long as you can. Be sure to pack the tree away carefully and store it in a place where it can’t get damaged. This way you can dig it out each year. If you want to replace your artificial tree, why not give your old one away to a good cause? Try local care homes or schools that may be looking for a tree. Or see if anyone you know would like to take it off your hands. Branches from damaged trees could be used to make your own wreath, stair runner or table centrepiece.
Renting a Christmas Tree
If you’re looking for a completely zero waste Christmas tree, renting one is always an option. Many companies across the UK rent Christmas trees to the eco-conscious among us. And once the holiday period is over, they take them back and replant the tree. All ready to be used again the following year. Through the rest of the year, the trees provide much-needed habitats for local wildlife. As well as absorbing carbon from the atmosphere too. Win-win.
Make Your Own Wreath
This is actually the first year I have ever had a wreath in my home. And I wanted my first one to be as sustainable as possible. I was lucky enough to pick up a foam wreath base and some wooden decorations, for free, off Olio. And the foliage was foraged from my local park. I opted for pine leaves, holly and pine cones, with a little eucalyptus I bought from a flower market. There are so many options for making your own wreath though. If you want to create a wreath entirely from scratch you can purchase wooden wreath bases, or better yet you could make one using an old metal clothes hanger. But if you don’t want all the faf, you can buy a premade wreath complete with foliage. Then you can spend your time decorating with ribbons, additional foraged foliage, pine cones, dried oranges and cinnamon sticks.
Decorate Your House Plants
If you’re looking for ways to create sustainable Christmas decorations, looking to items that are already in your home, is a great way to go. If you’re strapped for cash, trying to reduce your waste this Christmas, or simply don’t have the space, decorating your house plant is a great alternative to a tree. Cover your plants in fairy lights, hang a couple of baubles and voilà. A free and sustainable Christmas tree. Alternatively, get yourself some festive flowers and foliage. Think eucalyptus, poinsettias, hypericum berries, tree fern, thistles and pine.
Say Goodbye (or Hello Again) to Plastic Decorations
This is not about throwing your plastic decorations out. Far from it. I have plastic Christmas decorations currently hanging on my tree. This is about reducing your plastic when purchasing something new. And ensuring you can reuse your decorations for years to come. If you’re buying new decorations, try switching the plastic options for ceramic or even knitted versions. When Christmas is over, store your decorations well so they can be reused year after year. And if you’re looking to throw out your existing decorations, give them away on apps such as Olio, share with your local community or give to charity.
Christmas crackers make a great addition to the dining table during Christmas dinner. But they aren’t recyclable and will have to be thrown into the landfill. Unfortunately, the tissue hats and the toys inside won’t be recyclable either. But there are a lot more eco-friendly Christmas crackers available on the shelves now. These tend to be glitter-free, foil-free and made from recyclable card. You’ll even find linen reusable cracker options around too. If you’re feeling crafty why not make your own? Write your own jokes on old Christmas card tags. And make a felt Christmas hat that can be used for years to come.
I hope this guide to sustainable Christmas decorations has inspired you to make some changes this Christmas. But remember any change is good. However little you may think it is, saving even one Christmas tree from landfill can make a difference. If you enjoyed this post be sure to check out the rest of the blogs in my How to Have a Sustainable Christmas series.
Until next time.