There are so many easy and festive ways to have an eco-friendly Holiday Season. Here’s how to bring sustainable celebrating to Christmas and Chanukah.
Check out our simple and fun alternatives to cutting down a live tree. In addition to those options, there is an awesome company called The Living Tree that operates in California that brings live trees to your home for the holidays. Then after the holidays, they pick it back up and replant it. How cool and kind is that? Bear and I have done this many times.
San Francisco, California offers a similar tree ‘rental’ service, in which you pick out a tree, pick it up, and then either return it or arrange to have it picked up for a $25 fee. After your tree is picked up, it gets planted along San Francisco’s city streets.
Somers, Connecticut, Pell Farms is another company that sells both cut and potted Christmas trees.
An Even More Eco Option:
Instead of buying a tree, decorate one in your yard using decorations you already have, along with energy-efficient Christmas lights, if you like. Then not only do you get to enjoy the decor, but your neighbors do too! You can also hang these DIY pine-cone bird feeders on your outdoor Christmas tree to celebrate the season with your feathered neighbors. Be creative!
If you’re gonna have a tree, it might seem like an artificial tree is the more eco way to go, since they are reused, but really, it’s not. Surprising, right? People usually only use them 4 times or so and then toss them out where they will sit in a landfill forever. They also use lots of energy to produce, package, and ship them….not to mention that they are made with toxic materials.
If you are going to get a cut-tree, search for an eco-friendly tree farmer near you. Organic Christmas tree farms including low-spray and Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Christmas trees exist! If you decide to go this route, your most green option is to find a sustainable grower from a certified organic farm. You will also be supporting your local farmers. If you go this route, be sure to recycle your tree after Christmas by chipping it into mulch or composting it. You can also visit this article to find tree recycling and other Christmas item recycling options.
I’m always so sad when I walk the streets of New York after the holidays with all the trees dead and discarded on the street. It feels so wasteful and sad. Luckily, there are lots of alternatives- let’s not be the people who leave our resource-guzzling, discarded Christmas trees out on the curb!
Tree Ornaments & Decorating
I like to use things I’ve found or made to decorate. This will also save you $$$ instead of buying them all new from the store. You can use a baby shoe or an old children’s toy as an ornament and add a little one’s name and date. Hang cookie cutters from a ribbon. Make ornaments from nature!! Pinecones and twigs. Go crazy….buttons, silverware, things in your sewing kit….glue photos onto wood scraps or lids. Use Pinterest for crafting ideas, that’s a treasure trove of upcycling ideas!
If you do buy ornaments, try to find groovy used ones on eBay, Craigslist, or from your local thrift store. If buying new ones, choose the most eco ones you can get your hands on. This usually means lead-free, Fair Trade, or ethically sourced options.
They don’t have to be something super fancy, in fact, the more you use them, generally, the more you start to love them and enjoy pulling it out each year. You can look for used stockings and big socks, or even big oven mitts from your local thrift shops, garage sales, Craigslist, or eBay. If you buy a new stocking for the holidays, look for ones made from recycled or organic animal-friendly materials (that means no wool, too).
I save the fronts of holiday cards and reuse them. I keep them in a little box and pull them out when I need them. Try to reuse old cards, or make them out of stuff you have at home…magazines, old wrapping paper, etc.
But if you will be purchasing new ones, definitely try to go for 100% recycled cards….made from 100% post-consumer waste, or seed paper that can be planted. And if they are printed with soy-based ink, that’s even better! GreenFieldPaper.com sells recycled cards and hemp cards too!
Gifts & Gift Wrapping
You can peruse my Holiday Gift Guide Here. For wrapping paper use old newspaper or thrift store fabrics and ribbons. You can also re-use brown paper bags (although hopefully, you don’t have a ton of these, because you are using your reusable canvas bags), or get creative with magazines and even junk mail (hopefully you have stopped your junk mail. If you haven’t, go here to learn how).
Holiday Meals & Parties
Choose a holiday recipe from The Kind Life website which is full of kind, warming, beautiful meal options that would all be great for your holiday gatherings!
Try to make your party a little or no-waste event.
In conclusion – here’s a cheat sheet to green up your grand fete!
- Do not use disposables. You and your family members can trade dishwashing. That includes tablecloths and napkins! Investing in vintage or new cloth napkins and tablecloths is a beautiful tradition! Go for your own plates, cloth napkins, glasses, and silverware, but if you will be buying disposable, try for recycled or compostable/biodegradable dishware and utensils.
- Bring Tupperware, or send the family home with doggy bags that are freezable.
- Drop your leftovers off at a local homeless shelter, or feed them to the doggies (as long as there is no chocolate or onions involved, of course!)
- Compost food leftovers, or drop your leftovers to your local farmers market or co-op which always have compost.
- Don’t overbuy – buy exactly what you know your guests will eat. I personally hope that’s not tortured, dead birds! If you need tips on a vegan Christmas meal or Latkes – use the search engine!
- Use your own cloth or reusable bags when shopping.
- Use acorns, small pumpkins, pinecones, rosemary, wildflowers, and gourds to decorate your tablescape – and when you’re done with them – leave them out for wildlife outside to nosh!