This is Part 1 of a 3-part series on eco-friendly holiday ideas. Keep reading every Monday and Friday for more eco-friendly holiday festivities.
Christmas is coming, and it’s time to beautify your house in celebration of the season. Christmas décor provides so much of the fun, sparkle and spirit of the holiday season.
There’s just one hitch. Christmas decorations can be a drain on the environment. Think of it: Ornaments, paper and plastics are all waste to be thrown away after they’ve delighted the eye.
People in the United States send, for example, 2.65 billion holiday cards each year. If everyone who sent cards to friends and family last year sent just one less, it would save 50,000 cubic yards of paper. The result? Less material taking up space in landfills, and less paper manufactured using electricity from fossil fuels to churn out laminated Santas, reindeer and trees on a card.
So much of what we use to spread holiday cheer depletes our natural resources — which is hardly a cheerful thought.
Here’s the good news. It’s easy and fun to decorate your home and office with eco-friendly Christmas décor. You can celebrate sustainably! You can also reduce energy use by going outside to get some of your favorite eco-friendly Christmas décor, as the first two tips recommend. While you’re gone, be sure to turn down your thermostat.
Here are a few of my favorite eco-friendly Christmas décor ideas.
1. Buy a Living Christmas Tree
For many people, going out to get the Christmas tree is the kickoff of the season. It still can be. Just pick up a Christmas tree that hasn’t been cut down. Many home and garden stores offer verdant evergreens in a pot. They continue to provide the wonderful smell of pine and fir to your home throughout the season, with less shedding of needles.
You can buy a dwarf evergreen to have all year ‘round, minus the tinsel and lights. If you want to buy a larger living tree, take it to a recycling center when Christmas is over. They transform your tree into usable wood chips for mulch or fuel.
2. Make Pinecone Ornaments
Pinecones make festive holiday decorations. Go to a local park or rural area and simply pick up pinecones, if you have areas nearby. If not, many decoration stores sell natural pinecones that grew on trees — no fossil fuel energy required!
You can glue pinecones together in artistic shapes, or just place them on a bed of pine or fir boughs as decorative highlights. You can easily spray them with acrylic gold or silver for a shimmering effect.
3. Craft Centerpieces of Holly, Ivy and Cranberries
The traditional carol “The Holly and the Ivy” was popular because holly and ivy were once commonly used in homes for Christmas decorations. They’re evergreens, just as firs and pine trees are. Plan for a throwback holiday season by using sprigs of holly and ivy as centerpieces for your holiday table. You can combine them with evergreen boughs, as well.
Red holly berries, of course, add a seasonal touch of their own. Cranberries are another item to add for seasonal color accents.
4. Burn Candles and Turn off Lights
Candles are a beautiful and festive way to make your home holiday-ready. You can purchase scented candles with accents of pine, fir and bayberry to focus on the season. But if you already have a Christmas tree filling your house with delightful fragrance, you can also buy unscented.
Candles cast a warm glow. Want a terrific Christmas season evening? Turn off all your electric lights and devices, and light the candles. Chat with your loved ones, or play a family board game by candlelight. It’s restful, serene and underscores the peace that the holiday should be about.
5. Send E-Cards
E-cards are becoming an increasingly popular way of communicating with loved ones and wishing them the best holiday season ever. The eco-friendly advantage here, of course, is that it saves the paper involved in cards, stamps and envelopes. The messages are just as cheery and heartfelt.
Frankly, many people would prefer to read something they can look at on a computer or smartphone, rather than feeling obligated to display a stack of cards in their living rooms. Plus, it’s a big burden off Mother Nature.
6. Decorate With Strings of Popcorn
String popcorn to decorate the Christmas tree or hang from fireplace hearths. You can also spray-paint strands of popcorn with acrylic holiday colors. They’re a great alternative to tinsel and lights.
Popcorn strings biodegrade easily and use minimal energy, plus they’re fun to make, especially if you do it with young children.
7. Give Plants as Gifts
You don’t need to buy gifts made of plastic, which are full of fossil fuels that contribute to global warming. Plants are one of the nicest holiday gifts, because they remind the recipients of your thoughtfulness all year around.
For a holiday-themed gift, buy poinsettias or Christmas cactuses. Both are beautiful during the season, and gifted gardeners can make them bloom year after year. For cooks, buy potted herbs like basil or sage. Give crocus bulbs in a glass vase for people who need a boost in early spring.
These seven are some of my favorite eco-friendly Christmas décor ideas that will make your holidays sustainable and do your part to reduce waste and help the environment. Happy holidays!