Considered Christmas guide: sustainable Christmas decorations

We say “sustainable Christmas decorations” and you say “Bah, humbug”. 

But it doesn’t have to be that way. We love the festive season as much as the next guy. We’re still drawn like moths to a flame to the shop windows shining brightly with Christmas lights and piled high with glittery plastic baubles.

We just prefer to fill our homes with festive spirit, mulled wine and stylish decorations in a more considered way. Here’s how we do it…

Sustainable Christmas decorations: front door Christmas wreaths

Christmas wreath making workshops from foraged foliage or recycled material are available all over the country.  These are fun to do and, with a little assistance, can look fabulous. 

Christmas wreath making workshops also make a great alternative Christmas gift activity for friends. 

 

Sustainable Christmas decorations: Christmas wreath making
Christmas wreath making. Image: National Trust

Real vs artificial Christmas trees

You don’t need to worry about deforestation when buying a real Christmas tree. 

This is because Christmas trees are essentially a crop that we harvest. A six-foot tree typically takes about nine years to grow, during which time they  provide a habitat for wildlife, consume carbon dioxide and create oxygen – so they are generally carbon positive.

The issues come with the transportation and then disposal. We buy around seven million trees in the UK each year. Once the Christmas season is over, we send a huge number to landfill. Here, they take years to decompose and release methane, which experts say have 25 times the potency of carbon dioxide.

Most artificial trees are made in China. Their negative impact on the environment comes from the fact they are made from plastic, PVC and metal. And then they are shipped overseas.

If you’re buying an artificial tree, the general advice is that you need to use it for at least 11 years to offset the oil the plastic is made from, according to the Carbon Trust. 

We have a whole page dedicated to Christmas trees if you want to read more. 

 

Aerende Christmas
Christmas decorations: Aerende

Ethical Christmas tree decorations

If you’re using lights, it goes without saying, they should be LED.

If you you need new baubles, Nkuku and Aerende are online ethical homeware stores that sell truly stylish and sustainable Christmas decorations. Plus, they tat all come with great maker stories. 

Aerende really do tick all the boxes. First and foremost the Christmas decorations are beautiful. Secondly, their stapline is ‘life-improving homewares’. All of their products are made in the UK by people facing social challenges. Finally, they are very conscious about the materials for everything from the products to the gift wrap. 

Nkuku products are handmade by artisans across the world. These small businesses are at varying stages of operating according to the 10 Principles of Fair Trade. But Nkuku commit to helping them achieve this goal. Most of their products are made from natural and recycled materials. 

Nkuku Christmas decorations
Christmas decorations: Nkuku

DIY eco-friendly Christmas tree decorations

For a more home-made feel, there are many recipes for making salt-dough decorations online. This is a great activity to do with kids. As is making popcorn garlands.

Eco Boost vlogger Kate Arnell also hangs dried orange slices and cinnamon with twine. Simply put slices of orange on a cooling rack in the oven at about 120C for a few hours. 

“It makes the house smell amazing,” she says. They last for years and you can also add them to a pot with some cloves to make pot pourrai after you’ve taken the decorations down.

Stylish and sustainable Christmas table

“Bringing the outdoors in at Christmas time is an effective way to decorate your home,” says Thomas Broom-Hughes, head of horticulture at conscious and stylish Petersham Nurseries.

“A large vase of garden foliage and twigs can look both dramatic and stylish. A foliage table runner interspersed with potted plants, candles and bud vases of flowers make an unusual table setting.”

Pine cones can also make great table name holders. 

Eco-friendly gift-wrap

We throw away enough wrapping paper to circle the globe a staggering nine times (at least) every Christmas, in the UK alone. 

The most simple change we can make is to avoid shiny metallic wrapping paper and gift wrap with glitter, as it can’t be recycled. The same goes for Christmas cards. 

Do the simple ‘scrunch test’ to determine whether paper can be recycled; if it holds its shape when scrunched then it is recyclable. If paper springs back, it is not.

We have more sustainable wrapping ideas here, from earth-friendly suppliers to the art of Furoshiki – the ancient Japanese tradition of wrapping gifts in reusable fabric. 

 

MORE FROM THE ULTIMATE CONSIDERED CHRISTMAS GUIDE:

The best Christmas Day food boxes
Stylish & ethical gifts for him
Stylish & ethical gifts for her
Six of the best Christmas & NYE party outfits for her
The best Christmas trees
Chic & cheerful gift wrap
Three of the best Christmas crackers
Zero-waste Christmas Tom Hunt style

 

Main image: Petersham Nurseries

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