I decided to start this series with a post on minimal waste holiday decorations because for many people decorating starts now (or soon) and I wanted to get this out there before you go out and buy all those individually wrapped, brand new ornaments, plastic garlands, and other disposable decorations.
I want to start by saying that minimizing your waste any time, but specifically around the holiday, can be incredibly challenging, but it shouldn’t feel enslaving. You are not more or less worthy of love because you care for the environment in this way. You cannot earn your worthiness. You are worthy of love, care, and acceptance because you are made in the image of God. If you find yourself slipping into the belief that the amount of waste produce correlates to your value or worthiness, take a step back, remind yourself of the truth of God’s love for you and then restart.
Now to the practical! Here are just a few ideas to get your creative mind engaged in tackling the task of minimal waste, not minimal holiday cheer.
Trying making your own christmas tree ornaments. Here’s my post with a DIY recipe you can use which only has 3 ingredients (one of which is water, and the other two you might be able to buy in your bulk section depending on your store).
Focus on natural decorations. Try clipping some small branches from a pine tree in your yard (or in a kind neighbor’s yard) and use these for center pieces. Add pinecones or acorns to the mix. Even buy a few poinsettias for a pop of color and some real life decoration (not zero waste, but won’t last 500 years in a landfill at least).
Try finding a nice table cloth or cloth napkins that you like for the holidays at a thrift store, rather than buying disposable. If you can find one that’s somewhat neutral, then you can use it all year round too (Think red and white plaid, rather than Christmas tree covered for example).
Get a real Christmas tree! There are tons of places around us in Minneapolis where you can cut your own down or lots that have some precut, too. I don’t know much about the sustainability of this industry, but similar to the pointsettias, at least the real trees are natural and will decompose (you can even use the remains for bonfires in the spring).
Make your own garlands with popcorn or dry cranberries, rather than purchasing the plastic garlands for your tree. This can be a fun activity to do as a group while watching a Christmas movie or just enjoying each other’s company. You just need a needle, thread, and popcorn or cranberries. I can buy popcorn kernels in bulk at my coops and then pop them in a pot on the stove. Almost zero waste except for the thread!
I don’t have any good ideas for replacing traditional Christmas lights, but my minimal waste suggestion is to try to fix strands that have a few lights or a whole section unlit rather than just tossing it out. I also heard last year from someone that these LightKeeper’s work great. I haven’t tried it myself, but it’s worth checking out.
Make paper decorations like snowflakes or garlands and then use the paper afterwards for other projects or for help getting your spring bonfire lit.
My biggest recommendation for minimizing waste in the holidays is to stop and think before you buy something new and ask yourself, “Is there a way I could do something similar in a sustainable way?” Usually the answer is yes. So challenge yourself. Think ahead. Make it fun. Get some friends together to do some DIY decoration making so that you can all bring your projects home and enjoy the process of making something as much as the result. If you have other ideas of minimal waste decorations, drop a comment below!
Check out some of these photos below and their links for christmas decoration ideas.