5 Low-Waste Ideas to Sustainably Decorate For the Holidays (12/8/2022)

Feb 10, 2023 Annie Cao

Did you know that decorating during the holidays is good for your mental health? Turns out, festive lights and colorful decorations usually puts you in a better mood. All the more reason to get in the holiday spirit and add some cheerful touches to your home!

However, in the United States alone, the holiday season tends to produce about 25% more waste than any other time of the year. Instead of buying new decor, here are 5 low-waste ideas to responsibly decorate your space for the holidays!


image via pebblemag.com

Deck the halls with a handmade wreath.

Instead of buying a wreath, make your own! There are endless variations, so take your pick from all the different themes out there. One idea is to take the boughs from the bottom of your tree or use foliage such as branches, berries, or leafy herbs to create a wreath. You can also accent it with nuts, dried fruit, or pinecones and top it off with a bow made from recycled fabric.


image via sustainably-chic.com

Add some zest with a dried orange garland.

Who says you can’t play with your food? 😉 Slice up some oranges and lay them out on a towel. Press down on them to remove excess juice and then move the slices to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Make sure they don’t overlap and pop them in an oven that’s been preheated to 200° F. The thickness of the slices will determine how long it’ll take to dehydrate them — this article suggests 4 hours for ¼ inch thick slices and 3 hours if the slices are ⅛ inch thick (don’t forget to flip them halfway!).

When they’re finished, use a toothpick or skewer to poke holes and string them together with twine. And if you change your mind, you can also turn them into ornaments by making a loop with the string!


image via Etsy | NDKandBlueDesigns

Include an upcycled touch with handmade ornaments.

Making your own ornaments is a great way to repurpose leftover materials and have a uniquely decorated tree. Whether it’s using paper scraps or upcycling unused fabric, let your creativity run free when crafting your own ornaments.

Try these:

Origami stars

Denim tree ornaments


image via roomi blog

Appreciate what nature has to offer with natural decorations.

If bright lights and vibrant decorations aren’t your thing, using greenery and foliage will spruce up your home while giving a subtle nod to the holidays. Try displaying branches and boughs in a vase or make a centerpiece with pinecones and tie a bow with a ribbon or twine as a finishing touch.


image via grove.co

Make the most out of your tree or look for alternative options.

Christmas trees are a quintessential part of the holidays, but they tend to get a bad rep for not being sustainable. According to grove.co, out of the 30 million trees harvested each year, about 7 million are sent to the landfill. But if you really enjoy having a tree, we have a few waste-reducing tips.

Try renting a tree.

Nowadays, many tree farms offer the option to rent a potted tree for the holidays. All you have to do reserve a tree and they’ll drop it off at your home. When the holidays are over, the trees are picked up and brought back to the farm to continue growing.

Choose a sustainable artificial tree.

If you’d rather have an artificial tree, invest in one that’s made in the US to reduce greenhouse emissions from shipping. You can also make sure they’re made from eco-friendly materials — this way, you’ll be able to own it for several years and they won’t end up in the landfill at the end of its life cycle.

Choose a responsibly grown tree and recycle it.

If you want to own a real tree, consider buying from a local farmer or look for the Forest Stewardship Council’s seal of approval. At the end of the holiday season, find a tree recycling program that allows curbside pickup or drop it off at a recycling center. Another way to dispose of your tree is by breaking it down and using it in your yard as mulch, compost, or insulation.


What are your favorite ways to sustainably decorate for the holidays? Let us know in the comments!

Cover image sourced via zerowastememoirs.com

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