Eco-Friendly Decorations for the Holidays

By Maureen Wise in Thinking Sustainably

When the holiday season rolls around, there are often two camps: those who have countless bins of decor sitting in the attic, ready to bust them out as soon as the temperatures drop, and those who change up the holiday decorations every year, utilizing their DIY skills to bring their artistic crafts to life. No matter which camp you're in, adding some new eco-friendly decorations to your collection can help you get in the seasonal spirit and reduce waste. Whether you're looking to go completely zero waste or you just want to avoid the heaps of plastic tchotchkes, you can sustainably spruce up your home.

Sustainable Holiday Ideas for a Festive Season

Close up shot of an advent calendar

Reuse or Upcycle Thrifty Finds

One sustainable holiday idea is to reuse items. This helps avoid the additional costs of producing, manufacturing, and transporting a brand-new item. Plus, you're saving an otherwise landfill-bound item from the garbage! Look to thrift stores for vintage or new-to-you holiday decorations. You may uncover a gold mine of perfectly good decorations that someone else simply didn't have room for.

If you can't find what you're looking for, consider making it yourself with upcycled fabric, jars, wreaths, and whatever else you find at the thrift store or in your own closet. Cut up blankets, tablecloths, or button-down shirts and create something new. You can also repaint home decor pieces with holiday colors to give them a more festive feel.

Make a Winter Wonderland with Zero-Waste Decor

When adding anything to your home, consider the waste it could create and how you dispose of it at the end of its life. These holiday decor ideas add some festivity to your household with little to no waste left over.

One unusual decorative medium is ice. You can create luminaries, wreaths, balls, and other objects with ice and hang them inside and outside your home (of course, the inside ones have a much shorter lifespan!).

Using bunt pans, large bowls, or ice cube trays with interesting shapes, fill the container with water and add natural elements (such as pine sprigs, cranberries, or twigs) before the ice sets. Once they're frozen, use them to pretty up your porch, illuminate your walkway, or hang them on trees. If displaying them outside won't work because you live in a warmer climate, place a luminary on a plate for a centerpiece that dissolves while you eat.

Other zero-waste decorations you might consider creating include:

  • Festive bird feeders
  • Natural wreaths made with berries and nuts for birds
  • Holiday ornaments made with suet, tallow, homemade clay, or gingerbread
  • Gingerbread houses (plan to eat them afterward!)
  • Cut-out cookies

Create Compostable Ornaments

homemade wreath of pine and grapevine sitting on picnic table with wire cutters and green wire

Many zero-waste materials are also compostable. But if you need to buy a few items from the store to create your masterpieces, choosing natural elements can significantly reduce your waste. Making new holiday decor out of compostable materials may only last a season, but it can also become a memorable family tradition. If you have kids, getting them involved can teach them the importance of using resources wisely and give them the opportunity to flex their creative muscles. At the end of the season, it can be fun to take pictures of the decorations and see how their abilities have grown year after year.

Some compostable DIY decorations include:

  • Pine garlands and wreaths
  • Popcorn, cranberry, pinecone, and orange slice garlands
  • Homemade potpourri mix
  • Ornaments made by wrapping twine around cardboard shapes
  • Knitted or crocheted ornaments and tree toppers (use 100 percent natural fibers)
  • Decorations made with wood
  • Soy or beeswax candlesticks

Opt for Recyclable Decorations

While thrifted, zero-waste, and compostable holiday decorations are the least wasteful options, it's also important to enjoy the season. If none of these options work for you, get creative with decorations that can be recycled when they're past their usefulness.

Tin can luminaries can add more texture and color next to your ice luminaries. Plus, they won't melt, so they work well on the mantle over the fireplace or on the dining room table. They also add a cozy, vintage vibe. Other recyclable options include cardboard decorations such as nativity scenes, snow-cloaked houses, pine trees, or whatever else fits the holiday feel in your home.

Recyclable decorations can be another wonderful choice when you have little ones. Use recyclable items around the house, such as paper towel rolls, popsicle sticks, or paper plates, to make fun holiday crafts that will carry memories with them for years to come.

Embracing an Eco-Friendly Approach

As a bonus, all of these eco-friendly decorations for the holidays are also low-cost (or even no-cost). Some of them may take some time to put together, but turn crafting into family time and you'll start a new holiday tradition that you'll all look back on with fondness.

For more ways to reduce waste during the holidays, check out ideas for a no-gift Christmas.

Image Sources: Unsplash | Unsplash | Pexels

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Why It's Good

Make it a habit every holiday season to assess your decor. Replace worn or unused items with more eco-friendly options.