As we move into a greener world, so too will our approach to holidays. We’ll start lighting up the night with colorful bulbs run on renewable energy. We’ll focus on local ingredients and seasonal harvests that fit the time. And, gone will be the days of disposable, plastic decorations that we buy year after year.

Seeing as it has been a year, a couple of years really, of so much change and adaptation, perhaps now is the perfect time to start implementing the new approach to Christmas festivities. A great place to start is one of the central puzzle pieces to any good Xmas celebration: the tree.

Check out this article for ideas on how to make your Christmas tree itself more eco-friendly. For decorating it with eco-conscientious ornaments, this is the place to be.

Natural Materials

Christmas festivals of long ago relied heavily on simply bringing in festive natural materials from outside. Berry-laden sprigs of holly, pine cones, cinnamon, twigs of silver birch, dried flowers, and all sorts of other natural materials can liven up the Christmas tree simply as is.

Of course, we can also use these natural materials to build different craft ornaments as well. We can make pine cone garlands or mini-Christmas tree ornaments from sticks.

Better Lights

It’s time for us to get eco-friendly with our Christmas lights, and there are a couple of great options for doing that. Low-energy LED lights will require much less power to run, and they will last much longer than the old bulbs. Solar lights are also commonplace now, so they are a great possibility for places that get ample sun. And, of course, solar lights take no household electricity to run.

  • Even though these options are much energy-efficient than Christmas lights of past, we more than likely should finish using the lights we have before replacing them, as the energy to make new lights would be more than the energy our less efficient Christmas lights consume.

Recycling/Repurposing

In terms of appreciating and using what we have on hand, something much more in tune with the real spirit of Christmas, we can repurpose and recycle all sorts of materials we have around the house for DIY ornaments.

  • Leftover Christmas ribbons from years of wrapping presents can become bows and garlands on this year’s Christmas tree.
  • Newspaper, pages from magazines, old wrapping paper, paid bills, junk mails, and lots of other things can be folded into origami ornaments or looped into chains.
  • Cardboard boxes can be cut into shapes—stars, trees, snowmen, angels, bells, etc.— and used as fun holiday projects for the kids to make their own ornaments.
  • For those who are really handy, soda can ornaments are worth a shot, and they make great gifts as well.

Tissue Paper Tinsel

Store-bought tinsel tends to include lots of plastic and stuff that can’t really be reused or recycled, becoming an annual environmental issue. However, tissue paper—particularly saved from gifts received over time—can be shredded into biodegradable tinsel and pompoms to make more eco-friendly tinsel. Newspaper and other thin sheets can also make good tinsel.

Festive Foods

Food is another great way to decorate the tree without getting into extra plastic and such. We can use cinnamon sticks as noted before, but there are also clove oranges, rosemary wreaths, candied apples, and candy canes.

We can also cook different things to put on the tree, such as popcorn garland on a natural string, gingerbread cookies, and hand-wrapped homemade candies. These can be fun to eat and replace as the season progresses.

The idea behind a good, green Christmas tree is to choose to use ornaments and decorations that can simply go right to the compost bin, back to the recycling bin, or—even better—into your stomach. In addition to being better for the planet, trees decorated this way also create a nostalgic holiday feeling.

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