Across different countries, millions of Christians usually celebrates the birthday of Jesus Christ on the 25th day of December. A lot of people buy Christmas decorations as the “ber” month starts (September to December). So it should come as no surprise that copious amounts of waste accumulate during this time. From plastic decorations that are used just once and then thrown away to artificial Christmas trees and non-biodegradable wrapping, these are all things that will eventually find their way to a landfill. There, Horticulturist Deemer Cass of Fantastic Gardeners says, they will release methane and carbon dioxide into the air, causing the earth’s temperature to rise and increase the likelihood of natural disasters occurring across the world.
To stop this, we must be creative and start innovating. There are a lot of raw materials that can be seen everywhere in our daily lives such as plastic bottles, straws, junk food wrappers, or old clothes, all we have to do is collect them and think of some designs that can be made out of them.
But how do we make Christmas decorations zero waste?
I asked lifestyle bloggers, sustainable business owners, home industry insiders, realty experts, interior designers, and environmental experts on how to spruce up your home and office with less waste but still make it festive. Learn from their insights and get inspired to commit to zero waste Christmas decorations.
What should you avoid buying?
- Single-use items – For decor, either reuse what is already around, buy second hand or buy things made to last.
- Cheap plastic Christmas decorations – especially if you already have some leftover from past years.
- Packing paper – Use old clothes instead.
- Plastic cups for drinks – Just use your glass ones instead.
- Decor that you won’t reuse if all the glitter and flocking falls off – buy decorations that can be used year after year.
- New Artificial Christmas tree – Not only are these non-biodegradable, but they also can’t really be reused once broken or when the plastic they’re made of becomes sticky. According to Brittany Merriman of BonVoyageBrittany, “If you already own a plastic tree – just keep using it. There is no sense in sending the tree to the landfill when there is still life left in it! If you find a plastic tree at a thrift shop, I say go for it. After all, you’re saving it from a landfill. However, if you are looking for a new tree – go green and visit a tree farm. Most tree farms are actually locally owned, so besides a score for the environment, you’re helping the local economy.”
Recommended DIY Zero Waste Decorations for Christmas
Dry Soup Mason Jars – Nutritionist Mackenzie Burgess of Cheerful Choices
Dry soup mason jars make for a unique, affordable, and zero waste gift that friends and family will love. Simply combine dry ingredients like brown rice, lentils, split
peas, and spices into beautiful layers, attach the recipe card, and gift away! The jars can then be reused for everything from storing pantry ingredients to creating rustic decor.
Amazon box into photo prop – Lauren Lo of adensmom.com
One of my best zero-waste brainstorms was recycling an Amazon box into a photo prop for my then 3-month old. I covered the box with wrapping paper and stuck on a giant bow from a previous Christmas. This was perfect because my baby was too young to sit up on his own, but the box provided enough support to get some great pictures in front of the tree!
Make a popcorn tree garland – Deemer Cass of Fantastic Gardeners
For this decoration, you’ll need some popcorn kernels, dried cranberries
and a needle and thread.
- Pop the kernels and lay them out along with the cranberries in the
following patter: 3 popcorns and 2 cranberries, 3 popcorns… and so on.
Remember to start and finish with a piece of popcorn.
- Take a piece of thread that is a bit longer than the projected length of the garland. Tie it to a needle.
- Pierce the first piece of popcorn with the needle and thread and then wrap it around it and tie a loose double knot.
- Continue this process, following the above-mentioned pattern.
- When you reach the last popcorn, tie the string back around and form a double knot, same as the first one.
Junk food wrappers as Christmas tree decorations
Avoid buying plastics in decorating the Christmas tree and start making your own decorations using junk food wrappers. Usually, junk food wrappers are made of foils and take a lot of years to decompose so try to make the most out of them. Instead of throwing those kinds of plastics, be creative and encourage other members of your family to DIY those plastics into Christmas balls/flowers, tinsel garlands, and other designs. That way, you’re not just helping the environment to lessen the waste but you are also gathering your family to have time for each other and to bond.
Old clothes as ribbons for Christmas trees and gifts
Some people don’t want their Christmas tree to look vacant and so they filled their Christmas tree with red, gold, silver, or even blue ties/ribbons. Avoid buying plastic ribbons for the Christmas tree and start making them with your old clothes. You can also tie the piece of cloth on your gift and make it a ribbon. Try to search for videos for DIY’s and do it with yourself, you can also try to make more designs too!
Family photos as Christmas tree ornament
Instead of buying plastic ornaments like tinsel garlands, try this unique idea of Christmas decorations. With that, you will not just be showing off your decorations on your Christmas tree but you are also showing the love and unity of your family.
Straws, junk food wrappers, plastic bottles, and other kinds of plastics as Christmas lanterns
Oftentimes, people buy lanterns as the Christmas season approaches and it is undeniable fact that people throw them away after December. Most of us do not reuse it for another Christmas season and we tend to buy new ones. It increases the garbage and it takes thousands of years for plastic to decompose. For each time that will pass, those garbage increase the risk of our nature to be destroyed as those that plastics releases are the ones that also trigger the ozone layer to become thinner and thinner which makes the light rays hit directly our planet earth and causes all individuals to suffer from the hot surroundings.
Instead of throwing plastics away, collect them and upcycle them into one of the most popular Christmas decorations of all time – Christmas lanterns.
Zero Waste Decors That You Can Buy
The best place to buy zero waste decors is those stores/shops that sell handmade and reusable Christmas decorations. On the platform, you can buy everything from solid cardboard Christmas trees and tree decorations made out of yarn and paper to metal straws and reusable cloth holiday napkins.
If ever you want a Christmas tree that looks like a real tree and you were not able to plant a tree before “ber” months, you may buy instead living plants like Lively Root’s mini Christmas trees. Also, if you don’t have much time to DIY Christmas decorations, you can pay another person to do it for you and you can request more customized items if you’d like to.
Avoid buying cheap plastic Christmas trees and start planting while the Christmas season is not yet approaching. As the tree grows, it would release oxygen and absorb carbon dioxide which would help us to have cool surroundings and helps us to have fresh air to breathe. That way, you are not the only one benefiting from it but also our environment. As “ber” months approach you are now ready in designing your Christmas tree. All you have to do is to put some Christmas decorations that are used in the past celebration or you can make DIYs.
Fracture is a progressive Florida-based home decor brand that seamlessly solves all of those issues by allowing you to easily order a beautiful, durable photo printed directly onto sustainable glass by uploading your favorite photos or art through their website.
It’s a great zero choice for Christmas decorations because Fracture is a carbon-neutral company where sustainability is central to everything that they do from their minimalist packaging to their recycle-friendly manufacturing process.
We should remember that the essence of Christmas is about spreading love, forgiveness, and building unity with family. It is about the experience, not the stuff we have. Christmas is also about creating and cherishing good memories/experiences with our family and friends and not the Christmas decorations. Those plastic decorations that we buy are not important. What is important is being with your loved ones and celebrating with them together.
Remember, the holidays are about being around the ones you love, not about the things you give to each other.
After reading this guide, we hope you strive to help the environment by reducing waste and saving money. If ever you don’t feel comfortable in making or creating decorations, at least ask your relatives if they have available decorations that were used from the last celebration or if you have decorations from the past season, you can also reuse them. Let your creativity run wild! Reuse, reduce, and recycle Christmas decorations!