Deck the halls… sustainably!

With the Christmas season nearly upon us, it will soon be time to exchange presents, enjoy a Christmas dinner and to meet with friends and family. Many of these events happen in the comfort of our own home and we often want to bring the festive-cheer into our spaces.

However, it can be easy to overconsume at Christmas, and many decorations are thrown away after the festive period is over. To tackle this, ecobirmingham volunteer, Jasmine, has curated a guide on ways to create more sustainable decorations – which can be composted, recycled and reused after the winter period is over.

Dried fruit garland

Many of us enjoy baking Christmas treats, with festive flavours like cinnamon, orange and cranberries. Did you know you can dry out fruit to create beautiful bunting?

Not only does this look lovely, but it also creates a wonderful aroma. Plus, they can be fed to wildlife after the festive season. Check out this blog post for instructions: how to make a dried fruit garland

Jar candles

You may already recycle your jars, but there is another way to give them a new lease of life! Jars make a safe and sustainable way to keep candles alight through the colder months.

They can also be a fun product for children to decorate. If placed on a windowsill they can sometimes catch the light and act like a miniature piece of stained glass! If candles aren’t your thing, they also make excellent snowglobes! You can find lots of ideas on Pinterest

Reuse existing decorations

It may seem simple, but using decorations from the previous year is an easy way to reduce consumption around Christmas time. Even if they are the same pieces, consider how you could style them in different ways! With enough regular usage, particular decoration can become heirlooms, used by family members over the years.

Buy second-hand

If you still want the Christmas shopping experience, try buying second-hand. Most local high streets will have a charity shop, which will house many festive decorations. This can be a fun place to visit with family, to explore for new decorations. Not only do you get a new set of decorations, but you will have the experience of looking for them with your loved ones.

Solar panel decorations

The benefits of solar power is already well-known, but using them to power outdoor decorations is less recognised. For those of us with garden spaces, outdoor decorations can be desirable. Often, outdoor signage requires a constant electricity source which can be very costly. However, there are an increasing number of solar-panel alternatives on the market. They often fare well at charging up during the rainy British weather, allowing them to shine bright throughout the night.

Wrapping paper

Often, we overlook or might not be aware of the problems with wrapping paper. Many wrapping papers are covered with a thin layer of plastic film which makes it difficult to recycle. This is even more obvious when the paper is covered in glitter or a metallic sheen.

To wrap sustainably, look for ‘100% recyclable’ logos on the packaging. There are also beeswax alternatives which make a good, additional present to what you wrap – as it can be reused by the recipient!

Christmas cards

It is easy to receive a Christmas card, place it on the mantlepiece and forget about it. However, some smaller businesses are now offering compostable cards, which contain wildflower seeds so you can ‘plant’ the card after Christmas is over.

Shop locally

If you do decide to buy new, there are still ways to choose sustainable products. By shopping locally, you support smaller businesses which are less prone to overproduction. When you find yourself at larger chains, consider the materials used in decorations. Glitter is harmful for the environment, as it is a microplastic that cannot be recycled. Materials such as bamboo, felt and paper decorations are produced with sustainability in mind, and they can also be recycled when the time comes.

Online shopping appeals to many of us, as it provides a convenient and quick way to shop. Often we don’t know where our products are coming from, and this can result in a massive carbon footprint. To combat this, visit websites such as Etsy and use a custom filter to shop with only local businesses. This will ensure that products are still made locally and do not result in a greater carbon footprint than necessary.

You can also take a look at our guide to a greener Christmas to learn about ways to shop sustainably around Christmas.

If you feel inspired to try out any of the decorations mentioned, we’d love to see photos of your creations, curations and preparations! Tag us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at @ecobirmingham

This piece, along with its illustrations, was created by ecobirmingham volunteer, Jasmine Kular-Whittingham.

Giving Tuesday — 29th November
2023... sustainably!

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