The holiday season brings joyfulness, generosity and many opportunities to gather with friends and family. All this excitement can easily overshadow some of the less-sustainable aspects of the season. If you’re looking to green up your holidays, join the growing trend of shifting to eco-friendly outdoor holiday décor. Here are 6 ways to celebrate the season AND the planet.
When setting up holiday decorations, try to minimize your impact on the natural world.
- Use stakes or hooks instead of nails or screws to secure decorations. This helps avoid damaging trees or structures.
- Don’t disturb established plant or animal habitats in order to put up decorations.
- Avoid artificial materials. Things like plastic berries, tinsel and glitter can be ingested by animals and make them sick. They can also make their way into the soil, landfills and water, leaving behind harmful microplastics.
Given all the environmental dangers that artificial décor poses, sticking to natural materials just makes sense. Biodegradable and renewable decorations are both economical and earth-friendly.
- Create wreaths and garland from real evergreen boughs. Pro tip: don’t cut off healthy branches! Instead, find some that have already fallen.
- Use twine made from biodegradable materials like jute, cotton, sisal or hemp.
- Make edible décor for wildlife, including pinecone birdseed ornaments or strands of cranberries and popcorn.
- Collect pinecones, acorns, twigs and other materials from outside your home to make a rustic holiday wreath or porch display.
Note: When searching for materials, stick to your own yard. In public parks and nature preserves, it’s best to follow the “Leave What You Find” principle of Leave No Trace .
Make celebrating sustainably a tradition in your home by involving your kids in creating the outdoor décor. They’ll love being your little helpers and crafting beautiful, natural items to display. Skip on over to Pinterest for some inspiration, or try one of these eco-conscious crafts together:
- “Snowy” pinecones using flour, salt and water
- Dried orange holiday garland that smells as good as it looks
- Winter porch pots made with greenery from around your yard
Maybe you’re in the mood to update your holiday décor, but you’re not feeling crafty. No problem! You can still make the season more sustainable by saying no to new items. Instead, get some new-to-you decorations by borrowing from your family, friends or community.
- When your family gathers for Thanksgiving, follow the feast with trading decorations among the group.
- Host or attend a décor swap with friends, neighbors or your entire community.
- Ask for (and offer) outdoor decorations from your local Buy Nothing group to put unused items to good use.
- Solar lights store power from the sun (yes, even in winter) to illuminate your outdoor space at night.
- According to energy.gov, not only are LED holiday lights much more efficient than traditional incandescent lights, but they’re also safer, sturdier, longer-lasting and easier to install.
- No matter what type of lights you use, put them on a timer to conserve energy. An hour or two a night gives everyone ample time to enjoy the display, as opposed to leaving them on all night.
If you’re thinking of buying new outdoor décor, you should first consider reimagining what you already have on hand. The possibilities for reusing, repurposing and upcycling are truly endless once you start thinking outside the box.
- Turn a worn-out, “ugly” holiday sweater into a festive outdoor pillow cover.
- Create a windchime out of old bell ornaments or add them to your evergreen wreath.
- Paint old, mismatched tires with a non-toxic white paint to create a snowman.
- Flip a tomato cage upside down, stake it into the ground and wrap lights or garland around it for an instant holiday tree.
Celebrating the holidays with eco-friendly outdoor décor is not only good for the environment but also an opportunity to connect with nature, family and your own creativity. When we take care of the natural world, it takes care of us. And that’s by far the best holiday gift we could ever ask for.
Give your family — and the planet — the gift of sustainability.
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