The decoration season is upon us. For some, the moment the turkey is lifted off the table, it’s time to start setting up the holiday decorations. I live with one of those types. He’s ready with the Frank Sinatra holiday music immediately following Thanksgiving. I obliged this weekend and we set up our minimalistic decorations with some environmental conscious decisions.
We as Americans throw away 25 percent more trash during the holiday period (from Thanksgiving to New Year’s) than any other time of year. That amounts to 25 million tons of extra garbage (epa.gov)! This holiday season let’s keep the trash out of the landfill and think about what we’re buying and where it’s going when we’re done with it.
The general rule is to keep it simple. There’s no need to go big on holiday decorations. The more you put up the more demand on our natural resources. Here’s some tips to keep your holiday spirit yet still make good decisions for our planet.
- The tree. Real or fake? This by far is the biggest controversy in environmental holiday decor. There are positives and negatives to both.
The fake tree can be reused year after year but is made from a petroleum derived plastic. Fake trees are often manufactured overseas increasing shipping distances and carbon emissions. Fake trees do have a life span as well, and at the end most end up in a landfill.
Real trees have the negatives of being a farmed agricultural product which destroys natural habitat for the space to grow the trees. Many tree farms also utilize pesticides and fertilizers increasing water pollution. Real trees can’t be grown in all climates so they also face the issue of traveling long distances increasing carbon emissions from shipping.
However real trees have one large advantage over fake trees: they can be recycled and turned into mulch. The City of Dallas will be collecting used real trees at several different drop off locations around town. Call the waste diversion office at (214) 670-4475 for more info on where.
It’s a tough choice with no great answer except you could buy a potted tree that you can plant after the holidays or make a fake tree out of leftover objects around your house.
- The lights. Less is more. A few lights go a long way and we don’t need to all have Clark Griswold homes. The less we put up, the less energy we use. If you do put up lights, make them LED and use them year after year.
- The ornaments. Make your own! A fun project to have the kids join in on. They will love seeing their artwork up on the tree. From salt ornaments, lightbulb snowmen to paper snowflakes the opportunities are endless. Check out theartofupcycling.com for some great holiday ideas.
- The garland. Try making newspaper chains or popcorn and cranberry strings to hang on your tree. Add a few orange slices for some pop of color and amazing smell! Use last years leftovers to make this years garland – cut up old christmas cards and wrapping paper.
- The stockings. Stockings are the beginners craft dream project. They are a simple shape and leave room for creative personalization. Utilize whatever fabric you have – cleaning out your closet and have some old shirts or pants? Cut them up and make a stocking. If you don’t have a sewing machine no worries just grab a needle and thread, fabric glue or velcro!
- The cards. 2.6 billion holiday cards are estimated to be sold each year. If you’re going to print cards choose recycled paper products and remind your recipients to recycle them when they’re done. Or go waste free and be creative with a designed email or make a short video to send to your friends and family! We could save 50,000 cubic yards of paper if we all sent one less card. Just one. Imagine if we all sent fewer.
- The wrapping paper. Start collecting now. Newspaper, comics, and scrap paper that can be sponge stamped with Christmas trees. Need some bows? Pull out your cereal boxes and make some absolutely stunning bows (olderandwisor.com for pictures and directions).
- The presents. Think outside the box this year. Instead of heading to the mall, be creative with experiences, local made gifts, battery free and packaging free items.
I’m excited for the early start to the holiday season.Take this time to make some of your decorations and think twice before buying more items that are destined for the landfill. Not only will every bit you save help the environment but it will also help your wallet.
Need more ideas, check out a list of 42 ways to save waste during the holidays at use-less-stuff.com
As seen in the Katy Trail Weekly December 12-18.