November 20, 2014

Zero Waste your Christmas Decorations

Are you ready for some Airing of Grievances?  I gotta lot of problems with you "eco-Christmas decoration" people.  Instead of helping us turn our back on commercialism, many "green Christmas" websites are veiled attempts to get you to buy new stuff.  So instead, here are some Zero Waste decorating tips "for the rest of us."

Decorating the House

"S N O"?
  • Go get some decorations at the thrift store.  Seriously.  Go now.  I bet you can find a string of tree lights, four stocking holders (that may or may not actually spell something festive), a bag of bows and a waving Santa for $3.
  • Corral your decorations to one or two places.  I only really decorate the mantel and the front porch.
  • Only get stuff you love and want to use year after year.  I'd say focus on quality but I've got this old, fading, plastic wreath, I use on the door that has literally weathered the years just fine.  The ribbon is unraveling and the berries are falling off but it's the first thing I grab when decorating the house.
  • Start replacing busted Christmas lights with LED strings.  Less energy use, and they don't get so hot.
  • Make sure you recycle your old Christmas lights.  They are considered e-scrap and can be taken to the same place that'll take your old flat-screen TV.
  • If you cut your tree in the wild (which is encouraged here in the Rockies to reduce fuel for forest fires), pick up a few pine cones or fallen boughs and use them for natural, compostable decorations.   
  • Introduce old sweaters to your kitchen shears.  Apparently there are a bunch of Christmasy crafts you can make with underused yarn - wreaths, ornaments, stockings and this super cute snowman here.

Decorating the Tree

  • Turn the lights off at night.  Except Christmas Eve.  Santa needs to find his cookies.
  • Real vs plastic?  No contest for me.  Real all the way.  That tree has been pumping oxygen into the atmosphere for seven years and after Christmas you can have your city mulch it or you can use it for firewood like we do.  Either way, that thing isn't going to sit stagnant in the landfill.
    • Real vs plastic?   However... If you find plastic tree at the thirft store, Hello Zero Waste Win!
  • This isn't for everyone, but maybe consider the potted tree.  The tree costs more upfront and requires more thought and care, but in the end you've got less waste and an evergreen for your yard.
  • I like what Zero Waste maven Bea Johnson does, decorates a topiary that spends the rest of the year in a sunny corner of her house.  Strangely enough, I don't have have a sunny corner in my southwestern home, nor space for a tree, but if I did, or if I ever do, this is what I would do.

  • What I like about the last two options is they limit your arsenal of ornaments.  Smaller trees accommodate less adornment.    
  • Still in the market for tree ornaments?  Try getting them from local vendors at an Arts and Crafts fair.  They usually come with little to no packaging.
  • Or as one reader suggested, try making ornaments from last year's Christmas cards.
  • Edible garland?  Popcorn and cranberries?  We're doing it this year.  What the girls don't eat we'll give to the birds.  
  • If you really want to avoid Christmas ornaments, how about this option?  I'm seriously considering trying this with all my Masters books. 



How about grabbing some of the junk mail you can't seem to turn off and making some old-fashioned snow flakes?  It's reuse, it's recyclable and letting your littles use scissors gives them the gift of some good ol' self reliance.  You're welcome, dearest.







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