Eco-Friendly Holiday Decor: How to Sustainably Deck the Halls This Season

The holiday season can be downright magical — but it can also be pretty darn wasteful. Despite the fact that 81% of global consumers feel strongly that companies should protect the environment, many of us forsake sustainability for tradition during this time of year.

The reality is, though, that you don’t necessarily have to choose between the two. There are plenty of ways to deck your halls in a way that doesn’t hurt the planet. Here are just a few ideas to provide you with some holiday decor inspiration that’s a little bit greener.

Collect Your Own Greenery

American homeowners (who move every five to seven years, on average) really love their green space. Being surrounded by natural elements will come in handy when you want to decorate your home this year. Take yourself on a little nature walk to gather up some greenery. Branches, berries, pinecones, and other natural materials can easily be turned into garlands, wreaths, centerpieces, swags, and other decor elements. You might pay a pretty penny for imitation versions at the store that are made from plastic, but you can make use of what you already have in your own backyard and save money. Best of all, you can probably compost them after the holidays are over!

Consider a Real Christmas Tree

There’s a lot of debate when it comes to real vs. fake trees. Although it might seem rather wasteful to get a real Christmas tree every year, there’s actually a good argument for this option. Although fake trees can last for years and reduce waste on an annual basis, most artificial trees are made in factories that require the use of raw materials and potentially harmful chemicals before they’re transported long distances. Artificial trees don’t decompose once they’re thrown into landfills, either. Real trees are usually grown locally and on area farms and are carbon-neutral. New trees are planted every year and real trees can also be made into compost. You can even “rent” a Christmas tree in some areas, which allows the farm to actually reuse Christmas trees from year to year. As long as you’re being thoughtful about where your tree goes after the fact, this is a surprisingly sustainable tradition you can keep.

Use LED Lights

When it comes to decorating the tree, ornaments get a lot of the glory — but it’s the lights that keep everything together. Of course, you may be using more electricity during this time of year anyway, given that there are fewer daylight hours available. Instead of relying on incandescent lights, consider switching to LEDs this year. They tend to last longer, will use less electricity, and will emit less heat. When you aren’t celebrating, however, you should unplug the festive lights. Since appliances use electricity even they’re switched off (with a desktop computer using around 80 watts even when it isn’t in use), you can save even more energy by unplugging completely.

DIY, Thrift, or Get Hand-Me-Downs

If your mantle or tree are looking a bit sparse, don’t be so quick to run out to the store for new stockings and ornaments. You can probably DIY some homemade alternatives that will be a lot more meaningful. For stockings, you can use an old sweater to make your own. There are also a number of DIY ornament tutorials that use items like scrap ribbon, sticks, salt dough, recycled paper, or dried citrus to create beautiful baubles. And if you aren’t much of a craft queen, don’t fret. You can probably ask your relatives for some hand-me-downs they aren’t using, especially if their decor style has changed or they have pieces from their own parents hanging around the attic. If all else fails, head to a local thrift store in your area. You may be able to score a bargain and support your local community, all while keeping unwanted items out of landfills.

Because this time of year has become so commercialized, it’s easy to fall into the trap of believing you need all new decor for the holiday season. But if you make use of what you already have and employ a little bit of creativity, you can make your home look perfectly festive while saving money and the environment.

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