Looking for eco-friendly tinsel? Try these ten sustainable alternatives to deck the halls in an environmentally friendly way.
Tinsel may be a ubiquitous part of decorating your tree. It is the season of sparkle and joy after all. However, tinsel tends to be made of PVC plastic. This plastic is not easily recyclable and is derived from non-renewable fossil fuels. In short, that glittery string of tinsel is bad news for the environment.
If plastic-based tinsel gives you tinsel-itis then don’t worry – there are sustainable and eco-friendly alternatives out there that look just as good, if not better. Whether you want to DIY or buy, there are heaps of options to make your home more sustainable this Christmas time.
Eco-Friendly Tinsel Alternatives
Before you buy anything new, it’s important to say if you have a box of tinsel in your loft, then don’t discard it. Binning things in the name of sustainability isn’t at all good for the environment. The most environmentally friendly thing to do is to keep using your strings of tinsel until they reach the end of their life.
If your old tinsel has lost its sparkle, and you’re looking to replace it, then try these eco-friendly alternatives. Use the quick links below to jump to a specific section or keep scrolling down for the full post:
- Recyclable Paper Tinsel
- Recycled Sari Tinsel
- Felt Tinsel
- Felt Ball Garlands
- Paper Chains
- Popcorn Garlands
- Dried Orange Garlands
- Clay Star Garlands
1. Recyclable Paper Tinsel
At £4 per strand, paper tinsel from Paper Dolls on Etsy is a great budget-friendly and eco-friendly alternative to tinsel.
Made entirely from paper and stitched to order in Scotland, these fun Christmas fringed streamers are perfect for injecting some colour wherever you choose to place them.
Each streamer is made of two colours of paper stitched together, then hand-cut for a fringed effect. At approximately 10 cm wide and 2 m long, these fluffy ruffles are perfect for draping around your tree, or along your bannister.
Available in a variety of colours, you’re sure to find one to match your colour scheme. After Christmas, you can carefully store it away until next Christmas.
2. Recycled Fabric Tinsel
Oxfam makes it easy to ditch the plastic tinsel with its planet-friendly Christmas alternatives. This unique sari tinsel (£15.99) is handmade by female artisans in India from recycled saris. Giving a fun festive look, this can be used to decorate your Christmas tree, or your fireplace or staircase, just like you would with regular tinsel.
Available in festive red or green, in 2-metre lengths, it’s the perfect way to give your home a festive feel without the plastic.
As each strand is handcrafted from recycled fabric, each piece is unique. The exact colour will vary within the pictured colour scheme.
3. Felt Tinsel
This felt garland (£34 from Not On The High Street) is also a great eco-friendly alternative to tinsel. Yet it’s not so Christmassy, that it can’t be used to decorate at parties throughout the year.
Each plastic-free 1.2 m garland is handmade in Nepal using traditional needle felting methods from sustainable and biodegradable materials.
It comes in a cotton bag for storage, to help keep it looking fresh year after year.
4. Felt Ball Garlands
On my own Christmas tree are felt ball garlands that I have collected over the past few years. It’s a fun and festive way to add some colour and texture to your tree or your mantlepiece, without having to resort to plastic-based tinsel.
What I love is that whilst tinsel is very Christmas-specific, felt ball garlands can be used throughout the year. Planning a party? Want to add a bit of fun to your kitchen? Just string up your garland!
The felt ball garland pictured is from Paper High Not On The High St. This colourful string of pom poms is handcrafted by Fair Trade artisans, who felt the wool using traditional methods.
Instead of weaving the wool, heat, moisture, and pressure are applied to entangle the fibres and create the felt. The vibrant colours are also created using only natural, colourfast dyes.
It’s not currently available right now but try this very similar one from &Keep for £9.95.
Nope, that’s not a typo! Strinsel is a plastic-free alternative to PVC tinsel, made by Etsy seller This Thing Is String.
Made from nothing but jute, 100% cotton baker’s twine and cotton thread, it’s hand-sewn to create these fun festive garlands. With a little careful storage, these can be reused again and again.
No glue or plastic is used to create these eco-friendly alternatives to tinsel. What’s more, all the packaging used can be reused, composted or widely recycled.
Available in 2-metre and 3-metre lengths, from £14.
6. Paper Chains
Whether you want to DIY or buy a kit, like this festive-themed kit from Etsy (£6.50), then paper chains make for a fun eco-friendly alternative to tinsel.
The chains in this kit slot together, without the need for a stapler or glue. However, you can arm yourself with pages from magazines, colourful paper, or offcuts of wrapping paper to make chains that you can drape all around your house.
These can then be recycled after Christmas, or carefully stored for next year.
7. Popcorn Garlands
Popcorn isn’t just for munching on during your favourite festive movies. Using some popcorn and some fresh cranberries, you can create some pretty garlands for your tree that are entirely home-compostable. This makes for a zero-waste approach to tinsel.
Want to give it a go? Here’s all you need to know about making a popcorn garland this Christmas.
8. Dried Orange Garlands
For another DIY option that’s again entirely home-compostable, why not try drying some orange slices? Once dried, you can make pretty garlands that glisten in the light just like tinsel. And, as a bonus, your house smells amazing too.
Ready for the full how-to? Here’s how to dry orange slices.
9. Clay Star Garlands
Homemade clay star garlands are eco-friendly and make for a pretty alternative to tinsel. All you need is some cornflour and some bicarbonate of soda and you’re good to go! Here’s how to make these homemade clay garlands in minutes!
Finally, ribbon is a great sustainable and low-cost addition to your Christmas tree, that’s reusable year after year. For the lowest environmental impact, re-use what you have, or opt for ribbons made from sustainable fabrics.
To decorate, simply drape the ribbon around your tree like a garland, to bring a bit of colour and interest to your tree without the need for tinsel. Alternatively, blogger Kelley Nan shows you how to make your Christmas tree look incredibly fancy with ribbon.
For more ways to celebrate Christmas the eco-conscious way, then do check out my ultimate guide on how to have a sustainable Christmas.
I have tons of ideas, taken from almost a decade’s worth of writing here on Moral Fibres. From the most sustainable Christmas tree to zero-waste decorations you can make, to gift ideas as well as Christmas dinner ideas, it is all there!