There are so many easy and festive ways to have an eco-friendly Christmas. One big way to make a difference is with the tree. That’s right, the tree. But ornaments, gifts, wrapping paper, and food too can help reduce your impact.
On top of those options, an awesome company called The Living Tree in California brings live trees to your home for the holidays! Then, after the holidays, they pick it back up and replant it. How cool is that?
Here are a few more companies that offer potted, living trees (yay!):
Denver, Colorado,Tagawa Gardens sells potted trees that you can keep inside for up to seven days, then plant in your own yard. If you go this route, be sure to dig the hole you plan to plant the tree in before the ground freezes – that means early December according to their website, so if you want to plant a tree in your yard, dig that hole soon!
Somers, Connecticut, Pell Farms is another company that sells both cut and potted Christmas trees. The potted trees are available from 2ft to 6ft high ranging in price from $20 – $90. They also have a location offering the same in Grafton, Massachusetts.
More Eco Options
Instead of buying a tree, decorate one in your yard using decorations you already have, along with energy-efficient Christmas lights, if you like. 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 going to 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. Not to mention that they are made with really gross toxic materials.
If you are going to get a cut tree, search for an eco-friendly tree farmer near you. Check out LocalHarvest.org or GreenPromise.com. 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 Earth911.com to find tree recycling.
I’m always so sad when I walk the streets of New York after the holidays. All the trees layout 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 discarded Christmas trees out on the curb!
Tree Ornaments & Decorating
Just a few notes on this….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, use memorabilia like concert tickets, airline tickets…any tickets! You can use craft supplies to adhere them to wood patches too. Make ornaments from nature!! Pinecones and twigs and pebbles. Go crazy….buttons, silverware, things in your sewing kit….glue photos onto wood scraps or lids. Use cutouts from old holiday cards and magazines.
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, or online. 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. And if they are printed with soy-based ink, that’s even better! Green Field Paper sells recycled cards and hemp cards too!
Gifts & Gift Wrapping
Visit my gift-giving blog here for some tips. 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 tone 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
I’ve chosen my favorite recipes so far in the past recipe blogs. These would all be great for your holiday gatherings!
Try to make your party a little or no-waste event. 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.