Decorate Your House the Eco-Friendly Way
Christmas seems to come earlier every year with stores displaying Christmas decorations as early as October. The glitz and glitter of Christmas, however, definitely takes its toll on the environment. If you’re looking to have a more sustainable Christmas, you can easily green it up with just a little bit of planning and a few small, eco-friendly changes.
Ditch the Artificial Trees
While it might seem counterintuitive, cut natural trees is actually better for the environment than going the fake route. How can that be? Well most plastic trees are made out of PVC (plasticizing vinyl). This process requires phthalates a group of chemicals that help make the plastic more flexible and harder to break. Unfortunately, these also happen to place a huge burden on the environment and affects animal and possibly human reproduction. Not only that but as China produces and ships the majority of artificial trees, you’ll also need to keep in mind the emissions from transportation into the actual production. On the other hand, even cut trees are far more sustainable. Most Christmas trees are grown on farms and therefore cutting and selling them does not impact local forests. And since they are natural they can also be made into compost or mulch for your garden. Of course, the best eco-friendly route is to simply decorate the trees you already have in your yard. It saves you money as you won’t need to purchase one and reduces your impact even further.
Make Your Own Decorations
For many people, the most treasured Christmas memory is the decorating of the tree. Unfortunately, store bought decorations often come loaded with toxic chemicals and are made from un-sustainable materials like plastic. Not to mention, these ornaments often don’t see the next Christmas. Rather than spend money on cheap ornaments, tap back into the Christmas days of old and use eco-friendly materials around your house. You don’t necessarily need to be crafty to make your own ornaments and it can also be a great family activity.
- Magazine decorations – you likely have a stack of old magazines lying around your house. Put them to good use by cutting them into different Christmas-themed shapes like snowflakes, stars, bells and more. You can easily find some templates for the shapes online. All you’ll need is some string and scissors. If you want to get even fancier, you can use some earth-friendly paint and paint your decorations.
- Popcorn Garland – This one might take a little more time, but it’s super fun and a great way to get rid of that popping corn you’ve had in your pantry for a couple years now. You’ll need to have a needle and thread available as you’ll want to thread the popcorn together. And of course, don’t season the popcorn! The best part is you can toss this into your compost bin once Christmas is over.
- Acorn ornaments – If you happen to have an oak tree in your yard, put the leftover acorns to good use and dress them up as ornaments. These nuts are a perfect size for decorations and their natural shape is pretty cute to boot. If you don’t want to spend too much time, all you need to do is drill a hole and then thread some yarn through it. If you want to get creative, you can crochet a little cozy for it.
Switch to LED lights
If you haven’t already switched over to LED lights, now is the time. Not only do LEDs save you money, they also last a lot longer than traditional string lights. There are plenty of different colors available from the traditional white to multi-colored ropes. They’ll light up your Christmas tree just as well as your older lights and you can be at ease knowing you are reducing your carbon footprint. If you’re a lover of lawn decorations there are also plenty of LED options for those as well. Just remember to turn off those lights when you go to bed.
Use Natural Potpourri
Who doesn’t want the scent of Christmas in their house all day? The problem with potpourri and scented candles is the artificial fragrances. In order to create certain scents, companies must mix numerous chemicals to achieve the desired smell. Standard candles are made of paraffin wax, a petroleum byproduct that emit varying levels of cancer-causing toluene and benzene when left burning. Besides this fact, it also reduces air quality and can often trigger asthma. Rather than risk your health, why not make your own natural fragrances? Spike some oranges with cloves and scatter them in bowls around the house. You can also do some foraging outside, though this will require you to start early – probably around November. Gather some pinecones, holly, pine needles and other materials that have a wonderful fragrance and add some texture to your potpourri. Dry out some citrus rinds (lemon or oranges) and mix it all together with some essential oils.
While many people might dream of a white Christmas, you can make your Christmas that much greener with just a little planning and effort. It is well worth the time and you’ll rest easy knowing your Christmas is great for your family and the environment.