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7 Super Simple Sustainable Christmas Decorations To Love

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Danielle Alvarado


We know how fun decorating your home for Christmas can be, so we created our very own Complete Guide to Sustainable Christmas Decorations especially for you!

So gather all your DIY supplies, wine corks, cardboard paper, and randomness from the year and let’s get started!

This post is about Sustainable Christmas Decorations!

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Around the world, people are getting ready for Christmas. Front yards are filled with Christmas ornaments and living rooms are lit with colorful Christmas trees.

For those that celebrate, it’s no doubt a magical time of year, filled with heady nostalgia and Christmas cheer. Traditionally though, it’s also a time of mass consumption (and mass disposal). 

Ornaments, wrapping paper, advent calendars, and Christmas trees spend a month or so adorning our homes and businesses before being thrown to the curb.

The good news? Living sustainably doesn’t have to mean you’re the Christmas grinch! There are plenty of ways to fill your home with that same, joyful nostalgia, without contributing to Christmas consumption. To help you do just that, we’ve created Your Complete Guide to Sustainable Christmas Decorations (to go with last week’s guide on Alternative Christmas Trees!).

Are Christmas Decorations Bad for the Environment?

If Christmas decorations are bad for the environment or not isn’t easy to say. Just like most things, it depends on where & how the decoration was made, if it can be reused or repurposed, and how it is disposed of. 

When it comes to Christmas, the biggest overarching environmental issue is overconsumption. Around the world, gifts are bought and wrapped, greeting cards are sent out, homes are decorated, and fridges & pantries are filled.

It’s a beautiful sentiment, but in the UK alone, Commercial Waste estimated that an additional 3 million tons of general waste are created over the Christmas period. This isn’t to mention the excess food waste and pollution or even the 227,000 miles of wrapping paper and packaging that are purchased, used, and promptly thrown away. 

While there don’t appear to be any specific statistics about the sustainability of Christmas decorations, it does begin to paint a picture of why intentional consumption is so important at Christmas time.  

Are traditional Christmas decorations sustainable?

In 2014, Christmas decorations came under scrutiny perhaps for the first time, after an article was released about “Santa’s Real Workshop”. For a month or two each year, supermarkets are filled to the brim with colorful trinkets and decorations. 60% of these are made in Yiwu, China, which is home to 600 ‘Christmas’ factories. 

One of the workers interviewed for the article stated that they go through 10 masks a day to protect themselves from the cloud of paint. Reading this article, it’s hard not to think that there has to be a better way to get into the festive spirit…

Combatting Overconsumption at Christmas

Of course, we believe that the key to combatting overconsumption at Christmas is the same as combatting overconsumption in general – consume intentionally! Only buy what you need, and when you do, try to buy from local producers who champion sustainability. And what about Christmas? 

Well, there’s always a sustainable alternative! Give gifts intentionally, buy only the food you & yours will need for the festive season, try out an alternative, sustainable Christmas tree, and make eco Christmas decorations that are either fully compostable or reusable year after year.

We want to make it as easy for you as possible to live sustainably, especially during the busy holiday season. That’s why we’ve curated this list of beautiful, nostalgic, and sustainable Christmas decoration DIYs!

This post is about low waste Christmas decorations

DIY Christmas Decorations To Try Today!

1. Nature Ornaments

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Planted in the Woods Nature Ornaments tutorial is such a sweet idea, especially for those of you with kids who you want to encourage to get outside. 

She has a few different options, including snowflake or Christmas tree-shaped stick ornaments. The premise is simple – head outside to your nearest park (or your garden, if you have one) and collect some sticks, pinecones, and even some sprigs of foliage that have already fallen to the ground.

You can simply attach a cotton twine loop to the sprigs of foliage and pinecones to create sustainable Christmas decorations. For the sticks, glue them together in your desired shape, wait for them to dry, attach the twine loop, and voila!

2. Wine Cork Garland

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If you love your wine, but you’re not sure what to do with all the leftover wine corks, this wine cork garland is perfect for you! 

Instructables Wine Cork Garland DIY is easy to follow and looks beautiful wrapped around a Christmas tree.

Simply screw eye hooks into the end of each cork, tie twine around the hooks, and if you like, add some spare beads or charms to the twine! 

The best part, you can keep it for years to come or compost it (as long as you use natural corks and cotton twine).

3. Cinnamon Salt Dough Ornaments

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If you want to get really creative, why not create some Christmas-themed salt dough ornaments

Planted in the Woods even adds some cinnamon to theirs to add an extra festive touch. Start by making the dough using flour, salt, warm water, and cinnamon (which is optional!).

Roll the dough and cut out your shapes using stencils or cookie cutters, and don’t forget to poke a hole so you can add a twine loop! 

Bake at 250 degrees for 2 hours. As soon as they’re cool to touch, they’re ready!! Add some twine or ribbon and decorate your tree.

4. DIY White Clay Decorations

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If you love a minimal touch, then we love Simply Sustainable Living’s DIY White Clay Decorations. As she points out, white clay is super fun for creating sustainable Christmas decorations, but more often than not it comes wrapped in single-use plastic. 

So, she created a DIY White Clay recipe. Mix together bicarbonate soda, cornflour, and water over a low heat. Once the mixture cools, dust the surface with cornflour and shape your clay into a bowl.

Roll out the dough, cut your desired shapes using a cookie cutter, and bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Just like the salt dough decorations though, don’t forget to poke a hole somewhere in the ornament to tie your twine!

5. DIY Advent Calendar

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Yes, December 1 has been and gone, but it’s never too late to make a beautiful DIY Advent Calendar to decorate the house (or even the tree). My Plastic Free Home has made a beautiful tutorial using old cardboard boxes. Cut boxes down so that they have a 6cm base.

Fold the pieces up much in the same way you’d fold an ordinary cardboard box, but instead of folding it shut, sew the borders of the ‘lid’ together to make a roof. 

You can draw on each box so they look like sweet gingerbread houses, and hide a little treat inside each one to open as we move through December.

To make this a little less intensive, My Plastic Free Home created little bundles using old fabric. She tied them up with string and hung them alongside the cardboard houses!

6. Paper Star Decorations

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These paper star decorations by Simply Sustainable Living are perfect if you want to add a whimsical touch to your Christmas decorations. 

She’s used an old, broken book but you can use any old paper that you have lying around. 

First, fold the paper into a concertina fold, folding the shortest edges towards each other. Then fold the paper lengthways.

7. Dehydrated Orange Slices

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Dehydrated orange slices are a classic Christmas decoration that not only looks beautiful but will add a lovely Christmas fragrance to your home. We love My Plastic Free Home’s recipe

Basically, you just slice orange (or any other seasonal citrus fruit!) in even slices, lay them on a baking tray, and leave to dehydrate on the lowest heat setting possible in your oven. 

You can then add twine loops so you can hang them on your tree or create garlands to hang from the ceiling or wrap around the tree. Or get creative!

This post was all about Eco Friendly Christmas Decorations

Having a sustainable Christmas doesn’t mean you have to forgo fun Christmas decorations or keep everything minimal. There are so many fun projects and DIYs to help you get into the festive spirit – especially if you’ve got little ones around who are already counting the days until Santa will arrive!

If you liked this post, you’ll definitely want to check out these other posts from SKL:

Like it? Help support our work by sharing!

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