Eco-Friendly Christmas Decoration Ideas

By DEF Contributor

Some people dream of a white Christmas, but more and more people are opting for a green Christmas. The holiday season is a wonderful time of year, but it is also when a large amount of waste is created. Americans alone throw away 25% more trash from Thanksgiving to New Year’s than any other time of the year and this extra waste amounts to 25 million tons of garbage. Holiday decorations, present wrapping, and Christmas cards all significantly contribute to the extra waste. However, there are eco-friendly Christmas decorations to celebrate the holidays without negatively impacting the environment. These green Christmas decoration ideas will keep the holiday spirit alive while not generating excess waste.

Christmas Tree

eco-friendly christmas decorations
Source: Shutterstock/Gwen Lewis

The Christmas tree is an iconic fixture of the holiday season. Of course, the greenest option is to not have a Christmas tree, but if you must have a tree there are some eco-friendly options.

Out of all the Christmas tree options, you may think a fake tree is the most environmentally friendly since a fake tree can be reused, but this is not the case. Fake Christmas trees are generally made out of plastic, which is not an environmentally friendly material to begin with, and once those trees break down they cannot be recycled. Seven million fake trees ultimately end up in landfills come January and contribute to the global waste problem.

The greenest option is a real tree, but there are a few ways of obtaining a live Christmas tree.

A new type of business is popping up in the Christmas tree market that allows customers to rent a real tree for the holidays. Love a Christmas Tree in Leicestershire, U.K. delivers a real Nordmann Fir to your house for you to decorate and care for until the tree is picked up in January all for the low price of £20 (~$26). The trees are grown on a local farm and are replanted once they have been collected after the holidays, making tree rental one of the greenest ways to have a Christmas tree in your home. While this type of service is not common, it is worth a quick search to see if a similar service is available in your area.

When looking to buy a real Christmas tree, start your search at local tree farms. Locally sourced trees are better for the environment and local economy than large scale mass-produced trees. You can buy a traditional tree that is already cut down, but these trees cannot be replanted and must be disposed of. Many cities have tree recycling programs that will pick up Christmas trees after the holidays and a quick Google search will reveal any programs in your area. You can also dispose of a Christmas tree yourself by cutting it up for firewood or running it through a mulcher. There is also the option of buying a potted Christmas tree. Potted trees can be planted in your garden after the holidays, creating a permanent Christmas tree to enjoy year-round.

Ornaments and Other Tree Decorations

Once you have a Christmas tree, it is time to decorate it. Store-bought ornaments create waste, as they will break and be thrown out. More eco-friendly Christmas decorations are homemade ornaments or reuse ornaments that have been passed down from your grandparents and parents. Decorating your tree with family ornaments celebrates your family history while not hurting the environment. Making ornaments is an eco-friendly, family activity.

eco-friendly Christmas decorations
Source: Shutterstock/Gwen Lewis

Oleander and Palm posted a simple salt dough recipe for making ornaments. These ornaments won’t crumble and have a long shelf life. Be sure to store them in an airtight container so the ornaments can be reused next year.

1 cup salt
2 cups flour
1 cup water

Mix all ingredients in a mixer until a smooth dough forms. To dry the dough, bake in a 250°F oven for about 3 hours.

You can shape the dough however you like using cookie cutters; the only limit is your imagination. Poke a hole in the dough before baking so you can thread twine or a ribbon through the ornament to be able to hang it. You can also add pigments to the dough directly or paint the ornaments after baking.

A classic Christmas tree decoration is the popcorn garland. To make this simple decoration, cook some popcorn and leave it for a day or two so the popcorn becomes stale and less brittle. Use a needle and thread to string together the popcorn, creating a chain. You can tint the popcorn with food coloring before threading to suit any decoration theme, or add in dry cranberries to create a red and white strand.

Decorations are a staple of the holiday season, but there is an eco-friendly way to decorate. Explore your options when shopping for a Christmas tree to find a locally grown tree and figure out what you will do with your tree after the holidays. Decorate your Christmas tree by making your ornaments and garland, or reuse ornaments you already have. With this knowledge in hand, you are sure to have a merry and green Christmas. Be sure to SHARE these great eco-friendly Christmas decorations with your friends on social media.

Gwen Lewis is a writer who lives in California. She has been in the fashion and health industry for years and loves writing on the topic to give tips from experience. In her free time, she loves to stay active and has just taken on learning how to surf. For more, visit her online portfolio here.