6 Ways To Decorate Sustainably & Ethically For The Holidays
Every year when December arrives I immediately get excited thinking about how I will decorate our home for the holiday season. Some of my favorite memories as a kid are the ones spent pulling out our family decorations and transforming the house overnight into a magical winter wonderland. There is something so special about decorating our homes for the holidays, much more so than any other time of year, which is why I feel so strongly that it can be done in an ethical and sustainable way that only amplifies this special time of year.
avoiding waste this holiday season
When it comes to decorating for the holidays unfortunately there is a lot of consumer marketing that goes into enticing consumers to buy unnecessary and unintentional holiday decorations. You know what I am talking about — those holiday decorations that are trendy, mass produced, shipped from half way around the world, and made to last one season. These are not the holiday decorations that your mom or grandma passed down to you and they certainly wont be what you pass down to your kids.
While I know that not every holiday decoration needs to be a family heirloom, I do think that the things that decorate our homes during such a special time of year should be things that are chosen with intention, and made ethically. The holiday season is about giving, love, and compassion — so the things we use to celebrate this time of year should also be a reflection of those values.
how to create a more sustainable holiday season
Our lifestyle and the way we choose to consume are the real keys to creating a more sustainable world. Our behaviors are what will increase demand for ethically made goods, what will reduce plastic waste, and what will make this season one that is filled with memories and items that mean something.
While there are many people in the sustainability community who would argue that we shouldn’t decorate at all for the holidays, buy a tree, or purchase any gifts for family — this mindset is just something I will never be able to get onboard with. When it comes down to it, the holidays are a special time of year rooted in tradition, and that includes how we give gifts and decorate our homes.
But mindless purchasing has nothing to do with tradition — it’s not how our ancestors celebrated this season, and it’s not how we need to in the future. Which is why I feel so strongly that the holidays are actually an incredible opportunity for us to reshape the way we celebrate this season in a sustainable and ethical way. This time of year is when people spend the most money and also spend the most time with one another. It’s an incredible opportunity to show our friends and family what a sustainable holiday looks like, and that can start with how we choose to decorate our homes.
5 Ways To Decorate Sustainably & Ethically For The Holidays
This holiday season I want you to push yourself to think more creatively about how you will decorate for the holidays. Think about what you can reuse or repurpose, what you can buy that can be used year after year, and what companies you are choosing to support in the decorating of your home. Your home is special and full of love, your decorations should be a reflection of that.
Choose Ethically Made Decorations: When it comes to decorating for the holidays if you would like to purchase some new items to decorate your home with I would highly recommend supporting a company that makes holiday decorations using fair trade and sustainable practices.
Ten Thousand Villages is one of my favorite fair trade companies that I actually discovered for the first time during the Christmas season. They make so many beautiful handmade, and fair trade Christmas decorations and ornaments that I have collected over the years and really treasure. I also love knowing the when I support Ten Thousand Villages I am supporting the livlihoods of the artisans and makers who thoughtfully make each item by hand. As pioneers in the fair trade industry Ten Thousand Villages is one of the best places I can recommend to shop for Christmas ornaments and unique decorations that were made ethically and encompass everything that the holidays are all about.
Opt For Greenery: Using live greenery is one of the most sustainable ways you can decorate for the holidays. While you most likely will be able to find a farm or store near your where you can buy greenery, one of my favorite things to do is make homemade garland and wreaths. Personally, I find that live greenery has a way of bringing the outdoors inside (the smell is amazing!), and the best part is that at the end of the season you can simply remove the wire from your wreaths or garland and bring the greenery back into the forest, or back to the farm you purchased it from for composting.
Choose A Real Christmas Tree: While some people think that a fake Christmas tree is more sustainable it really isn’t. These trees are made from plastic and will not breakdown within our lifetimes. They are also often times made in China and then shipped around the world to reach our homes meaning that the carbon footprint of that fake Christmas tree is much more than the real tree you could buy ideally within your own community.
So instead of buying a fake Christmas tree opt for a real Christmas tree that ideally you can source close to your home. We are lucky that Vermont is one of the largest Christmas tree growers in the country so we have a big selection to choose from right in our own community.
When choosing a real Christmas tree you can also look into the growing practices of the farm you are choosing from and ask about their policies on bringing the tree back after the holidays for composting.
This is also a great resource for looking into recycling options for your Christmas tree in your area.
Decorate With Live Plants: Rather than purchasing cut plants and greenery you can opt for live plants. I love bringing live plants like Norfolk Island Pines and small balsam potted plants into our home that will last long after the holiday season has past. Make them even a little more festive by stringing some small wire twinkle lights on them that you can turn on when it gets dark outside.
Opt For Antiques: Probably my favorite way to decorate for the holidays is with antiques or thrift store finds. You would be shocked how many treasures you can find at your local antique or thrift store that are perfect for holiday decorations. While they probably wont scream “Christmas” this is where your creativity comes in and you can choose to make something understated really festive.
Take an old wooden sled, or some rustic candle sticks for example. All you have to do is add a few Christmas lights or some pine greenery and your antiques are now your prettiest Christmas decorations.
Repurpose and DIY: The holidays is one of the funnest times of year to be creative, and I would highly recommend going onto Pinterest and getting some ideas for how you could repurpose or make homemade Christmas decorations. From drying orange slices for stringing, to making a gingerbread house, to making your own advent calendar there are so many ways that you can repurpose the items you currently own to make fun and creative holiday decorations.
I hope some of these tips helped you get started on your way to decorating more sustainably and ethically for the holidays. Over the next few weeks I will be sharing even more DIY projects and I would love for you to share some of your own with me over on instagram by tagging me and using the hashtag #thewellholidays