How to deck an eco-friendly hall with LED lights, secondhand Christmas ornaments and handmade Christmas crafts

 

Maia is ready to decorate. My rule has been to put off Christmas decorating until, well, winter. But 9 year olds have a different idea. So we pulled out our box of decorations early this year.

 

After a quick search through, she promptly described our carefully collected stash as “lame” and “not very Christmasy.” It seems my daughter wants to do it up big this year, and while pulling out all the stops might be pretty, it’s probably not so environmentally friendly.

Obviously it's eco-smart to reuse the decorations we’ve been lugging around. But I can see how our tree might look a little bare with just two strands of lights and a crate of homemade decorations. Maia wants bling and glitter and I’m offering simple and subdued.

 

So we headed to the store, and after getting over the sticker shock (both because of the price and all that unrecyclable plastic that’s involved) we went home empty-handed and began thinking of greener ways to get that holiday glow.

 

Green Christmas

Ornamental holiday bowl of pine cones, cinnamon and bark. Image: (Cross Duck)


1. Start with nature

Think of how your grandma or favourite granola-type friend decorated during the holidays—with evergreen boughs and holly cut from local trees (ask first!), homemade ornaments and bowls of fruit, nuts or pine cones. Check out these simple ideas.


2. Try secondhand

Check secondhand shops like Goodwill and the Salvation Army, where you’ll find loads of gently used and vintage holiday décor. Buying secondhand keeps all those decorations out of the landfill. And don’t forget to donate any items you’ve grown tired of—someone will treasure them.

 

Green Christmas

Real tree with vintage decorations. (Image: Flare)


3. Embrace homemade

They might cost a little more than a plastic Santa that hails from China, but check out the holiday craft fairs for handmade tree ornaments that are created from natural materials. Many handmade decorations also come with little or no packaging, another bonus in this season of excess. They'll also likely be the treasured ornaments that get passed down from generation to generation.

 

4. Bright lights you can feel good about

Christmas lights are one place where most experts do say replace with new. When those old strings burn out (and you can’t just replace the bulbs) or you graduate to a larger tree, opt for energy-efficient light strings. When they’re made using light-emitting diode bulbs (LEDs), they’re 90 percent more efficient than traditional holiday lights. LEDs also last longer—up to 10,000 hours compared with 5,000 hours for standard incandescent bulbs.

 

Green Christmas

LED lights are 90 percent more efficient than traditional lights. (Image: palkynebtab)

 

5. Get the greener tree

Real trees are better than fake trees. I know the debate happens every year, but a factory farmed tree doused in pesticides and herbicides for eight years (which is typical), chopped down for Christmas, trucked to a far away destination and then tossed away after two weeks of use is still better for the environment than having a fake tree—even one that you keep using for a decade or more.

But if you want to get the greenest tree possible—check out the rental trees at Carbonsync and Evergrow Christmas Tree Co.

 

How to recycle your Christmas tree after your done: Where to recycle that Christmas tree in Metro Vancouver.