We can all agree that the holiday spirit can be a beautiful thing. Somehow, it injects many people with an insurmountable amount of joy, hope, and all those good-feel emotions. However, you know what isn’t a great part of the holiday season? How wasteful it can be.
When I say wasteful, I’m talking about how most holiday traditions don’t keep the environment in mind. I’m not trying to be a Debbie-Downer here, but why do we need so much plastic around to celebrate the holiday season? The reality is that we don’t — we’ve just gotten accustomed to buying what’s at hand without thinking about any domino effect it may have.
But it’s fine! We are all learning how to care for the planet every day a bit more. This is why we wanted to share some easy-to-follow tips on making your holiday and Christmas decorations more environmentally friendly.
Start with your tree
Did you know that plastic Christmas trees are terrible for the environment? Nearly 90 percent of these plastic trees come from China, which means plenty of carbon emissions — and we shouldn’t want that if we want to fight climate change. Also, these artificial trees are not made of recycled materials, so it’s difficult for them to decompose (they often don’t) when they end up in landfills.
On the other hand, even if real trees are being cut down for the sake of holiday joy, it actually helps maintain healthy forest habitats. This, in turn, helps the wildlife that depends on such habitat — we have to keep the proper Circle of Life going. Best of all, real trees can be recycled and given a different purpose once the festive season is over! In fact, most states have organizations that accept real Christmas tree donations for the purpose of conservation in their local communities. So, to recap: get a real tree!
Think of your wreath too
Artificial wreaths are also as harmful as artificial trees. Instead, try creating your own using fresh, seasonal foliage. Or make one out of fabric! All you have to do is create a sturdy base, and the rest is history. What’s amazing is that you can reuse this wreath all year long — just change the fabric or fabrics to the relevant holiday.
Toss plastic Christmas decorations ASAP
Plastic decorations are not only tacky; they, too, can’t be recycled. This means that at some point in your lifetime, your Christmas joy will be floating around the earth, harming animals because it will take hundreds of years for it to decompose. Instead, try environmentally-friendly decorations! You can make them or buy them — up to you.
If you want to buy them, there are plenty of options to choose from. Whether it’s glass, wood, or brass, you’re sure to find something that fits your decorative style. Pottery Barn, Anthropologie, and Target are known to have a selection of eco-friendly Christmas decorations. If that’s not your vibe, there are plenty of pages at Etsy filled with eco-friendly decorations.
If you are more of a DIY Master, then go for it! Some ideas that can serve as inspiration are popcorn, paper, felt, and fabric. To me, the simplest one is “sewing” popcorn together to create a unique Christmas tree garland. However, the possibilities are endless!
What about your Christmas lights?
Christmas lights account for approximately 6.6 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity every year, according to a 2008 study from the US Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration (EIA). That type of energy consumption emits more carbon and natural gases that are healthy for our planet. Such energy consumption would’ve provided electricity for all of El Salvador in just 2016, where their consumption was just 5.9 billion. And, believe it or not, Christmas lights, specifically those with incandescent bulbs, are part of the problem.
This is why The US Department of Energy has advised us to use LED festive lights on our Christmas decorations, especially since they’ve stated that LEDs use 75% – 80% less energy than the incandescent bulbs and last 25 times as long. It’s just better all around — it even lowers your electricity bill.
Now, that doesn’t mean you should leave them on all day and all night. Please don’t overdo it. Having these lights on all night can affect the routine of nocturnal animals, which can have consequences. So, be mindful of how long you leave them on as well.
It might take some time to get used to this “new way” of decorating for the holidays, but it will be worth it in the end — for you and those that follow.
As the Native American proverb says: “We Do Not Inherit the Earth from Our Ancestors; We Borrow It from Our Children.”