Eco-Friendly Holiday Tips: Homemade Décor & Gift Ideas
Did you know the Christmas holiday has one of the most negative ecological impacts on our planet?
You may not have stopped to think about it this way. However, once you do think about it, it makes sense.
This holiday has become one of the most consumer-driven, wasteful, and stressful times of the year. Business competition has extended the holiday buying season to begin at roughly the same time fall decorations appear on the shelves.
As a result, we are often at a loss for how to combat the stress and pressure we feel to have beautiful decorations, serve delicious food, and give extravagant gifts to our loved ones.
The Eco-Impact of Christmas
We spend about $75 billion on Christmas gifts every year. That’s a lot of driving, delivering, and wrapping. But that’s just one aspect of yuletide.
It is estimated that over 2.65 billion Christmas cards are sent, and 20.8 million Christmas trees are cut in the U.S. alone. For just one short holiday season, that’s a big sacrifice of trees.
In fact, that’s enough Christmas cards to fill a football field ten stories high. If each family sent one less card, we could save 50,000 cubic yards of paper! Imagine if everyone sent paperless Christmas cards.
The water use, greenhouse gases, and land disturbance associated with the production of some of our favorite decor and treats are what we often don’t consider.
For instance, Christmas trees absorb one of the worst greenhouse gases: methane. Imagine if we all kept live trees instead of cutting them down en-masse each year! We could keep this precious resource intact.
Non-visual Ways to a Greener Christmas
In the words of Henry David Thoreau, “Simplify, Simplify, Simplify!”
During the holiday season, the temptation is great to say yes to every event invitation and to attempt to buy a gift for every person in your life.
Christmas decor provides the one time of year where it’s okay to deck your house in sparkles and line your roofline with twinkle lights, both of which have an ecological impact on their own.
It gets overwhelming! Which things deserve your time and attention? What activities will genuinely be fulfilling to you and your loved ones, and which ones can go?
The best thing you can do for yourself and the planet during this time is to take a moment to consider the most important aspect of Christmas for you and your family.
Then, decide not to say yes to anything that doesn’t revolve around that aspect. Whether this is religious, relational or, yes, even simply festive, it will focus your attention.
You will be able to simplify when you realize that the Christmas party isn’t your thing or those new shoes for your kids aren’t that important.
Green Christmas Basics
You might be thinking to yourself that changing tactics now would be tricky. You’ve created expectations for your kids, family, and friends!
Rather than change everything at once this year, why not do your shopping with simplicity and a few green pointers in mind?
Tops Tips for a Greener Christmas
Keep “stuff” at a minimum.
You know the kind I mean: the dollar store and dollar aisle almost every place you go is going to have tantalizing, colorful, and happy stuff stocked under your nose every time you go in.
If you can avoid buying stuff just because it’s pretty or convenient, that’s half the battle. If you stop to think about it for a minute, you know this stuff is going to end up in the garbage a week, a day or even hours after it gets used.
Save your money to buy something high-quality that you can use over and over again. If you have to, shield your eyes when you walk by that dollar aisle!
Choose sustainable fabrics and wrapping paper.
When you’re looking for clothing gifts, choose sustainable fabrics and materials like silk, wool, linen, wood, organic cotton, hemp, and much more.
You don’t have to spend a fortune on these items. Why not gift something that is well-made and will last for years rather than a cheap factory-made garment?
Wrapping paper made from sustainably harvested trees is one way to make sure your eco-impact remains low. In addition, you can eschew paper altogether by re-using fabric to wrap your gifts year after year.
Use natural materials wherever possible.
Regarding holiday decor, natural materials are both more sustainable and have the potential to be more cost-effective.
Cranberries, greenery, and candles in a glass jar of water can have a dramatic impact without breaking the bank or putting more glitter into our water supply.
Use an afternoon to put together a few wood pallet stars and wrap them with LED lights instead of stringing lights along your whole roofline.
Determine to make your own garlands this year with your kids – or some salt dough ornaments – instead of buying new.
Edible gifts & homemade gifts
If you have a choice between buying something for each of your child’s teachers or each of your employees or making one big batch of your grandmother’s special Christmas cookies, it’s both simpler and more eco-friendly to do the latter.
If you’re saying no to some of the events, you will also have the extra time! It’s understandable that not everyone does have the time to make something for everyone in their lives. However, think about it. Do your children’s teachers really need more stuff?
Consider something edible can send the message that you care while not cluttering someone else’s life.
Use LED lights and candles.
Far be it from me to deny anyone their Christmas lights! One of the best free Christmas activities is to see your town all dressed up in twinkle lights. It’s always magical.
Choose LED lights that use less energy as the staple of your lighting strategy. Timers will help keep your energy use under control as well.
Additionally, if it’s safe, try using beeswax candles in your windows instead of going through multiple packs of batteries this season.
Upcycle and reuse
Upcycling and reusing are some of my favorite aspects of Christmas gifting.
Gardeners, especially, have a flair for being creative and reusing wherever possible. Make this ability work for you by inventing new ways to use the stuff you already have.
It could be as simple as saving bows from year to year. Maybe it’s gifting all your little pothos propagations! Here’s a list of ideas to get you started.
- Recycled Cardboard Tree
- Driftwood Tree
- Pallet Tree
- Paperback Book Mini Tree
- Foraged Greens Wreath
- Practically-Free Pine Cone Wreath
- Edible Herb Wreath
- Upcycled Holly Leaf Holiday Card Wreath
- Recyclable Paper Wreath
- Puzzle Piece Snowflakes
- Cinnamon Orange Garland
- Recycled Christmas Gift Bag Garland
- Easy Greeting Card Garland
- Cranberry Candle Float
- Rustic Tree Stump Centerpiece
- Reclaimed Wooden Candle Centerpiece
- Upcycled Wine Bottle Candle Holders
From keeping “stuff” to a minimum to using LED lights, choose to make your holiday season eco-friendly while reducing your stress. Happy crafting and Merry Christmas!