Eco-Friendly Holiday Decor

Eleanor King

This year, deck the halls with eco-friendly decorations! The temptation to grab the tinsel or plastic dreidels might be strong, but the impact these small items have on the environment is big. Skip the plastic menorah or fake Christmas tree and instead opt for natural items, recyclable materials, or sturdy and reusable decorations. 

We’ve put together a list of decor that meets both eco-friendly and non-toxic standards to make sure you have a festive and healthy holiday season. 

Menorahs 


If you’re in need of a new menorah, avoid buying low-quality plastic ones and instead invest in a high-quality metal or recycled menorah. While these might cost you more up front, it’s worth it for the environmental impact it will have. Not only do these last longer, but they are also able to be passed down through generations. 

When it comes to finding a new menorah, buying fair trade or a recycled menorah from a small business is the way to go. Ensuring you are supporting ethical labor practices and small businesses is a great way to spread holiday cheer without causing a negative environmental impact.

Burn unscented beeswax or soy candles instead of petroleum-based paraffin wax. Paraffin wax candles are actually refined from crude oil and can emit harmful chemicals such as toluene, benzene, formaldehyde, and soot when burned. Beeswax or soy candles typically burn longer than other types of candles and are non-toxic, making them a healthier and more sustainable choice. 

Christmas Trees 


It’s hard to discuss the holiday season without bringing up a Christmas staple: the tree. The debate then becomes real versus artificial. Real trees tend to be more expensive, are only used once, and can cause allergies. On the flip side, artificial trees are able to be reused time and time again, are not known to cause allergies, and are easy to clean up after. 

According to the National Christmas Tree Association, real trees are typically grown locally, are 100% biodegradable, and are carbon neutral. Additionally, they are a renewable resource and can be recycled for mulch or other natural purposes. Artificial trees on the other hand are typically made in China and must travel long distances to get to consumers, are made of non-biodegradable plastics and metals, and can contain harmful substances such as PVC and lead.

Buying a real Christmas tree is the clear choice for those looking to be more sustainable and eco-friendly. We understand that not everyone is able to purchase a real Christmas tree, whether it be due to an allergy, living restrictions, or cost. In that case, KIWI magazine recommends buying a potted plant that can double as a festive tree during the holiday season. There are many types of potted plants that can be decorated with lights and ornaments and be equally as festive! 

alternative Christmas tree

Holiday Lights 


It’s no secret that stringing up a set of colorful lights is one of the charms of the season. But many older strands of lights are not actually eco-friendly. Upgrade to LED lights instead of incandescents. LED lights use one-tenth of the electricity incandescents do and last 40 times longer. Plus, the bulbs don’t burn out, preventing that mid-December flicker that always seems to happen in the hardest to reach strand.

LED lights use one-tenth of the electricity incandescents do and last 40 times longer.

The nighttime glow of houses lit up with lights is something spectacular and magical about this time of year. Some fond childhood memories stem from driving around the neighborhood to see the lights. In the winter, the sun sets much earlier, meaning you’ll be running your lights from 5 p.m. to who knows when. Use a timer or set a reminder for yourself to shut the lights off before you go to bed. We guarantee no one will be driving around with their kids at 3 a.m. to look at your light display. 

The easiest way to give your lights an eco-upgrade is to simply use fewer strands. While decorating your roof with bands of colorful candy canes might seem like the perfect way to celebrate, it’s not doing any positive for the earth or your wallet! Sometimes the best way to be more eco-friendly is to simply cut back on how many resources you are using. 

Outdoor Decor


While the massive blow-up Frosty down the row might look extra festive, these plastic inflatables are horrible for the environment. Not only do they need a constantly running electric motor to stay inflated, they are petroleum-based and not biodegradable. Once these pop or break, or you inevitably don’t want them anymore, they clog up landfills and add to the overwhelming holiday waste.  

Skip the tinsel wrapped porch or plastic candy-cane lined drive and instead look for natural decorations that can be just as festive without the added plastic. Using Christmas tree trimmings or decorations made from branches is a thrifty way to DIY decorations that are also eco-conscious.

If you do choose to use any of the above plastic-based outdoor decorations, when you are done for the season don’t throw the decorations away. Instead, save them to use next year. If you are not going to use them again and they are still in good shape, drop them off at a thrift store so that others can reuse them.

Trinkets and Table Decor 


Leading up to the holidays, the Target $1–$5 bins might be calling your name. Filled with cheaply made plastic decorations, these affordable trinkets might seem like the perfect way to spruce up your bookshelf or create a table centerpiece. Think again! Not only do many of these smaller plastic items come from China, they are made with PVCs and other potentially harmful substances. Furthermore, they typically only last one or two seasons, making them a shoe-in for the landfill. 

Opt for naturally made decorations or easy DIY items made from what you have around the house. You’d be amazed at what you can transform cardboard and yarn into. Plants are a great way to add fun and festive color to your house while purifying the air and giving you something to care for year in and out. 

Plastic and fabric evergreen branches or dreidel garlands might seem like a cute way to make your home feel more like the holidays. These may be inexpensive, but with so many eco-options out there, from small businesses and even easy DIY’s, spending a few extra bucks to upgrade your space for the holidays is the way to go.