How to Make Outdoor Holiday Decorations More Sustainable

Posted by Ecogardens

How to Make Outdoor Holiday Decorations More Sustainable | Christmas decorations don’t have to be so bad for the environment, so let’s green them up.


Sadly, the most wonderful time of the year is not always so wonderful for the environment. There are, however, steps we can take to minimize the impact of holiday decorations.

We hate to Scrooge things up, but holiday decorations are a serious bugbear when it comes to urban ecology and environmental stewardship as a whole.

Sure, that giant glowing Santa in your neighbor’s front yard may look cute (when it’s not keeping you up at night), but it’s definitely not an environmental win.

Actually, we just realized that giant glowing Santas don’t have any redeeming value.

But what about evergreen bunting? Wreaths? Twinkle lights? After all, what are the winter months without these charming touches of holiday cheer?

We feel you. Truly, we love a good winter wonderland just as much as anyone else, which is why we’re tackling this problem head-on.

Step One: Stop Using the Worst Holiday Décor Offenders


How to Make Outdoor Holiday Decorations More Sustainable | The first step in better holiday decorations is to stop using environmental polluters.First and foremost, let’s ditch the most unnecessary holiday decorations:

  • Giant blowups that require a constant stream of power to keep the fan and lights running, and tear quickly
  • Incandescent lights, which don’t last long and often stop working when one bulb blows
  • Anything made with tinsel, which is terrible for animals and doesn’t biodegrade
  • Anything made with excess plastic or small parts, which birds can eat and die (Merry Christmas, guys!)

Here are some other no-nos to consider this holiday.

Step Two: Substitute in Environmentally Friendly Holiday Decorations


How to Make Outdoor Holiday Decorations More Sustainable | The second step is to purchase and use environmentally friendly decoration options.Y’all, Christmas miracles are real. We know, because one year we put a bunch of gorgeous red twig dogwood sticks into a planter … and they bloomed the following spring, then lived all summer and fall. We’re sure it won’t surprise you to learn that we intend to use them for as many winters as we can.

The experience was pretty empowering, and it taught us an important lesson: holiday décor doesn’t have to be as ephemeral or polluting as it is. Other decoration ideas that don’t cost the environment that much include:

  • Other types of organic decoration, such as pussy willow or naturally colorful twigs (not dyed)
  • LED twinkle lights, which are much greener than incandescent, and come in a warm yellow glow now
  • Wreaths and bunting made with biodegradable twine rather than wire, which quickly becomes landfill pollution

These fixes are relatively simple, even if they might take a minute to figure out. It’s worth it.

Step Three: Make Smart Christmas Tree Choices


No, we’re not giving up our Christmas trees come hell or high water. And yes, it is possible to go a sustainable route when it comes to those Christmas trees.This is a tough issue, and we can’t advise you about which kind to get. However, we can offer a few tips:

  • If you’re going to get a fake tree, make sure it comes with a guarantee for the first year and that you’ll use it at least 4 years, after which time it becomes a more sustainable choice than a real tree.
  • If you get a real tree, contact your city to find out if they have a tree pickup service to get it composted or mulched. When trees go into landfill, they decompose slowly and add methane to the atmosphere.
  • If you can, get a potted tree that can come indoors for the holidays, then live happily outside the rest of the year with the right care.

Interested in learning more about sustainable holiday décor and urban gardening? Get in touch!



Topics: Stewardship

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