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Green Christmas Decorations for an Ecofriendly Christmas

Updated on December 15, 2009

From stockings to ornaments to garlands, the amount of money and materials that are spent on Christmas decorations each year is tremendous. While some things are saved from one year to the next, most will eventually end up in a landfill. In fact, it is thought that about 10% of the yearly landfill budget of most communities is produced in conjunction with the Christmas holidays. Though much of that is the annual quadrupling of glass, aluminium and food waste, a significant proportion is made of the many types of Christmas decorations that households routinely use and throw out.

A Green Approach to Christmas Decorations

Many would choose a different way to celebrate the holidays and the return of longer days to come with a more ecologically sound type of decorations. In short, people are sick of throwing away plastic do-dads that clog up the landfills that are rapidly approaching capacity. If by making a few simple changes that result from spending a bit more effort and a lot less money many can “green-up” and take some of the materialism out of their Christmas, over 73% of people would be interested, in a mid-'aughts survey.

The basics of a “Green Christmas” can be summed up and generally applied based upon a few principles:

  • Anything that goes in the landfill should be avoided
  • Using local and natural alternatives will save fuel and carbon emissions
  • Even recycled products use energy and create some waste, so their use should be reduced where possible
  • Many “simpler” Christmas decorations are even better and cost far less
  • Natural decorations can be recycled at little cost into a useful end product
  • Durable items with longer useful operational lifespans reduce waste
  • Plastics, though light, are less durable and often contain toxic substances that can harm human and environmental health
  • Products that are obtained through fair trade practices encourage environmental stewardship through economic development

Edible Eco-Friendly Christmas Decorations

The Yule season has been long known for showing off the bounty of the year, and for most of human history that meant showing off the good food. This is done at Christmas Dinner, but also in the form of the largess displayed by using food as ornaments.

Trees can be festooned with cranberries and popcorn instead of plastic garland from Far-eastern Asia. Citrus slices and gingerbread men can be hung from the tree. You can spend a little extra money on good quality ornaments or make your own from kitchen items such as egg dioramas, nuts or even a macaroni garland. Any dried fruit will do. These are especially useful when using a living tree that can then be planted outdoor to feed the local wildlife.

Christmas wreath

Look at manmade and natural decorations on this wreath - the natural ones look better!
Look at manmade and natural decorations on this wreath - the natural ones look better!

Wild-crafting Green Christmas Decorations Locally

Wreaths are surprisingly easy to make with a simple, re-usable, wire form. Evergreen clippings can be collected from the wild at any point in the winter, no matter your climate. Most temperate climates also have some sort of local plant that produces red berries during the winter, for great effect as an accent. Garland can also be made with some reusable wire or twine.

Many of the items that are standard in the Western Christmas decorations tradition are found in areas such as England, Western Europe and the Far West of North America. Other areas has similarly showy plants that can inspire whatever local Christmas tradition you want. For instance, small pineapple plants are a popular Christmas decoration in tropical Florida.

Choosing to Buy Environmentally-friendly Christmas Decorations

You can also find green Christmas decorations in the nearby or online marketplace. Recycled items range from eco-friendly Christmas crackers to stylish salvaged fabric gift bags to reusable bamboo boxes. Fair-trade stockings, Advent calendars, recycled wrapping paper, recycled glass or metal ornaments, “up-cycled” items transformed into decorative objects, soy based candles with essential oil scents and recycled party supplies are all examples of products available to make your Christmas burden on the Earth a little more bearable.

Low-power miniature (or fairy) lights are now available as light emitting diodes (LEDs), which consume a small fraction of the current used by their incandescent counterparts. Each string is also able to last several times longer – many are rated with lifespans of 200,000 hours or more.

Green ways to decorate your tree


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    • That Grrl profile image

      Laura Brown 5 years ago from Barrie, Ontario, Canada

      Good ideas. We gather branches for wildcrafting every year. I leave them outside until Spring.

    • profile image

      givetome 7 years ago

      Agree! Anything that goes in the landfill should be avoided. Wish we could.

      Being a recycler is a great way to get rid of all stuff, reusing and giving new life for unused things instead of letting it sit in landfills.

      Give away those things in GIVINGETTING and help to improve the living conditions of millions of people. This is GIVINGETTING way of giving and getting free stuff.

    • profile image

      Jen 8 years ago

      Very inspiring ideas! If they are made from recycled materials, then they become extremely eco-friendly!

    • 2uesday profile image

      2uesday 8 years ago

      Very useful and thoughtful and informative hub. I've been thinking about this and wondering what decorations are 'green' and not harmful long term.

    • lyla profile image

      lyla 8 years ago from India

      Great ideas! :) I'm sure to try out the edible ornaments!:)

    • midnightbliss profile image

      Haydee Anderson 8 years ago from Hermosa Beach

      there are lots of tv shows nowadays that features DIY or crafting christams decorations. it is great, because you'll spend less and you'll be able to recycle and use materials already available in nature.