Some Eco Friendly Christmas Decorations
Christmas is a wonderful time of year, especially if you have children. But if you are concerned about the state of the environment and the planet, Christmas isn’t all that wonderful. Just thinking about all that plastic, paper and so forth that goes into wrapping presents, sending cards, making cards, packaging gifts, decorating homes – and then going into the bin and the landfill – can make a green-minded person turn rather greenish. Short of not celebrating Christmas at all (and enduring Scrooge comments from co-workers, but worth considering if you don’t have family and/or religious reasons for celebrating this season), what can you do to make Christmas a bit greener? How about starting with the decorations?
Traditionally, Christmas decorations weren’t made out of plastic and tinsel but out of real, biodegradable greenery and paper – with maybe the odd candle here and there. Consider using not just a real Christmas tree rather than an artificial one, but also making wreaths out of traditional ivy (long trailing strands of ivy are easy to twist into a hoop), or even holly (if you can get hold of it). Real mistletoe is a bit harder to get hold of, but is much more environmentally friendly if you can get hold of it. Afterwards, these decorations can be composted, or dried and used as fuel in a fire (holly burns fiercely and can get a stubborn fire going to a roaring blaze quickly). Other potential decorations using natural materials include pine cones (a little spray paint to turn these gold or silver won’t hurt the environment much) or even shells, for a slightly different look.
Old fashioned pomanders made of oranges stuck with cloves and hung up with beautiful ribbons were once used as Christmas decorations, and they smell gorgeous. After Christmas, hang these in your wardrobe to deter moths and to subtly scent clothing.
Paper is biodegradable and recyclable, so if you like to have new decorations every year, crepe paper has a lot of possibilities beyond the more traditional streamers hanging from the roof or chains wrapping the tree. Also consider the potential of the ends of Christmas-themed wrapping paper that are too small for wrapping presents – are they big enough to make squares to make origami tree ornaments?
In the months leading up to Christmas, consider the Christmas decoration potential of anything before you throw it out. Old data CDs (or music CDs that are too scratched to read) can be hung on the tree “as is” and add a nice iridescent shimmer, or else they can be cut into shapes (stars? snowflakes?) with a craft knife before being hung on the tree. Even things made out of foil (old coffee packets or chocolate wrappers) can be cut and twisted into ribbons, or made into the links of a paper chain.
If you buy ornaments rather than making them, don’t throw them out after Christmas is over, only to buy new ones the next year. Keep them – bringing the same ornaments out year after year is great for nostalgia and becomes part of a family Christmas tradition. Ornaments made by children definitely come into the “nostalgia” category – even if your teenager winces to see the wonky stars and angels they made at the age of five being hung on the tree, hang up those stars/angels anyway. Your teenager will remember it fondly later…
Make edible Christmas decorations – shaped gingerbread biscuits, sugar candy canes, popcorn strings and toffee apples (not to mention ordinary oranges) all look great on a tree and can be part of a “twelfth night” feast when you take the tree down – or eaten on Christmas Day itself.
Using real candles rather than electric “fairy lights”, as the fire risk of candles is rather high. The energy consumed by fairy lights is probably similar to the amount of paraffin (a petroleum-based substance) burned and carbon added to the atmosphere by candles. Beeswax candles can make a more eco-friendly decoration, but keep them off the tree. Instead, bore holes into a gnarly pine log big enough to take the candles and have a Yule Log, as they used to use in England before the Christmas tree idea was imported from Germany.
The ultimate in eco-friendly decorations is a live Christmas tree that you plant in your garden after Christmas – it’s a gift to the environment. Tell your garden cleaner London to look after it when he/she does the gardening.
Nick Vassilev is the founder of successful carpet cleaning London and domestic cleaning London businesses delivering quality cleaning services to thousands of clients.