Welcome to December. If you’re in the northern hemisphere, this likely means scarves, gloves and mulled wine. Oh, and a plethora of Christmas decor in all shapes and sizes. From wreaths to trees and lights to decorative adornments, how much thought do you give to the environmentally-friendly status of yours? There are many great ways to have an eco-friendly home and the good news is, they’re often cheaper!
Much like any sustainable lifestyle choice, you should never feel deprived by pursuing it. Take veganism, for example. A hardcore carnivore might see it as only eating that one veggie portion they have with their meat every day (which is, of course, painfully boring) until they delve into the realm of all the wonderful varieties of produce, grains and alternative proteins and start experimenting! Christmas is an important time of year for many of us and being told that our decorations are either wasteful or unsustainable can get the do-gooder right in the feels. What am I going to instead? I really wanted some decor…
Here are some ideas for substitutes you can make this year. Inspire guests with your environmentally-friendly ways and do your good deed for the season.
1. The Christmas Tree – There are two types of trees: synthetic ones and real ones. There are pros and cons to both; the former being a one-time purchase (if you take care of it) and the latter being biodegradable and thus more “natural.” If you go with a synthetic one, all you can try to do is future-proof it by getting one you think you’re likely to still want in 5-10 (or more!) years time. Personally, I much prefer a natural tree. The best ways that you can go down this route are to look for one locally grown, organic and potted. That won’t be an option for everyone, but potted trees are great because at the end of the holiday season, you can simply pop it outside into your garden and let flourish until the following year. It’s worth noting that if you do go down this route, remember that potted trees can get cold shock after being sat in your toasty living room for a couple weeks. Gently reintroduce them to the bitter winter weather by putting them outside for a few hours at a time over the space of 3-5 days before moving them outdoors full-time. If you don’t have any outdoor space or can’t find a locally-grown tree where you are, simply consider adorning your favorite houseplant. If you’re in warmer climes, there’s nothing more adorable than a Christmas cactus.
2. The Decorations – It might be your family tradition to have an elaborate array of shiny baubles. You know the kind – with the metallic sheen? If you’ve already got them, I say use them. The most wasteful thing you can do is go out and purchase more of something that you already have, after all. But if you’re starting from scratch, consider handmade ornaments from sellers online or in a local Christmas market. It’s these that you’ll truly love and cherish for years to come. Wood, clay, and glass are also preferred materials rather than plastic for their sustainability scores (plus, look ultra chic!)
3. The Lights – There are two kinds of lights to consider during the holiday season: outdoor and indoor. I’m an advocate for a dark night sky absent of skyglow which disturbs our wildlife, so would encourage you to keep your lights on the inside. Invest in low-energy lighting with which you can adorn your tree, fireplace and banister and candles made of plant wax dotted around for the hygge factor.
4. The Wreath – Rather than store-bought and synthetic, consider making your own wreath and proudly hanging the labor of love on your front door. Christmas tree yards are a great place to scoop up waste pine needles, but also consider pine cones, dried berries and any other trimmings you can easily seek out, then get creative! These also make great gifts for friends or family that you’re staying with over Christmas.
5. The Christmas Jumper – Perhaps more of a British tradition, but the Christmas jumper is owned and loved by many. Cracked out for the office party, it then gets stuffed under the bed for the rest of the year or worse – thrown away after one wear. Choose to go more sustainable by making a brooch out of pine needles and juniper berries and pin it to a jumper you already own. You’ll look far more stylish anyway!
So you see, there are many ways to break the mold and do things a bit more sustainably. This list is by no means exhaustive and we’d love to hear about your favorite environmentally-friendly Christmas decor traditions!
What is one change you could make today?
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