Make staying home fun by decorating in sustainable holiday style

Did you know that 60 percent of the world’s Christmas decorations are produced in 600 factories in Yiwu, Zhejiang province, which has been nicknamed “Christmas Town”?

Though the name sounds festive, it’s the furthest thing from Santa’s Village. Along with being produced in unethical conditions for both adults and children, most of these products—including Christmas trees—are made of PVC or polyvinyl chloride, a widely produced plastic polymer which is a known carcinogen and cannot be recycled. Not to mention that shipping these products from China is contributing to carbon emissions and exacerbating climate change.

This is why so many have turned to alternative holiday decorations which can be foraged, made at home or thrifted. All of these options are not only more sustainable, but they also don’t harm any people in the process. The bonus? They're super fun to make on your own or during a crafting night with your household.


1. Support your local tree farm

treesPhoto by Annie Spratt on UnsplashLet's start with the most important Christmas decoration: the tree. Even though it sounds contradictory to cut down trees in order to save them, decorating your home with a real tree is actually helping to fight climate change. Most local farmers will plant one to three seedlings for every Christmas tree sold. By purchasing a real tree, you’re supporting your local community and encouraging local farmers to keep their land forested, which helps to draw down carbon from the atmosphere (and it makes your home smell piney-fresh).


2. Forage or look to nature for decorations

pineconesPhoto by Osman Rana on UnsplashWhether you’re decorating your tree or the nooks of your home, the best thing for the environment is to take from your own backyard. Branches, pine cones and pine branches make for great accents to decorate wreaths or Christmas gifts. Though not found in most backyards, another great way to incorporate nature is to visit your local market and pick up some cinnamon, oranges, apples, or cranberries to dry and hang on your wall or tree. All of these organic options will smell amazing and you can compost or recycle them at the end of their life or reuse them year after year.


3. Craft your decor

salt dough ornamentPlanted in the WoodsFollowing in the footsteps of foraging, you can also use use supplies or items you have around the house to make your holiday decor. My favourite thing to make this year has been Salt-Dough Ornaments.

The recipe is easy: 1 cup of warm water, 1 cup of salt and 2 cups of flour. You mix the salt and water together, adding the flour in after. Knead the dough until you can roll it out (like cookies) and form or cut out your holiday shapes. Poke the holes for your string before you bake so you can hang up your ornaments and then bake them at 200 to 250 F for 2 to 3 hours. Allow them to cool before you begin decorating with salt, sugar, paint or other craft supplies.

You can leave the ornaments their natural colour or add in spices to bring a dash of cheerfulness to your tree. Try cinnamon, clove and ginger to add to the festive smell, or a bit of turmeric or dried beet powder for a brighter look.


4. Thrift your Christmas decor and keep hand-me-downs

ornament vintagePhoto by Markus Spiske on UnsplashNot all of us are naturally crafty, so thrifting or keeping those family hand-me-down decor pieces are a great option. You can spruce them up with some crafting supplies or leave them as is. This also goes for any gift bags or wrapping paper that you already have around the house. The best advice I’ve received in the past is "to use what you have on hand” since the product has already been made and will otherwise go to the landfill.

But if you’re looking for something “new” to add to your collection of decor, hunting for gently used treasures at your local thrift shop or antique store is a great way to achieve that new feeling without contributing to more waste. It’s also a fun activity in itself and you never know what you’ll find in these shops.


These are just a few ways to bring sustainability into your holiday decor this year while spreading some much-needed cheer and cozy vibes throughout your home.