Arts & Crafts, Life & Style

10 Zero-Waste Christmas Decorations to DIY

Today I’m sharing with you ten zero-waste Christmas decorations for you to make.

As I mentioned in this month’s newsletter, I, like so many others, am keenly looking forward to celebrating the festive season. More so than ever. Whilst we may not be seeing our extended family this year, we’re definitely compensating by decking the halls like never before. 

If you’re also looking to decorate your home a little more, then perhaps some of these zero-waste Christmas decorations, made from natural and compostable materials, will be up your street.

Before I begin, please, don’t bin your existing decorations just because they’re made of plastic. Remember, as with most items, the most eco-friendly Christmas decorations are the ones you already own. Re-using what we already have is the absolute pinnacle of zero-waste. So, if you’ve got reams of tinsel and plastic baubles galore from Christmases gone by, then decorate using them with abandon! I’ve got plastic baubles on my tree from when I was a kid, and they bring me SO much joy. I’m hoping that one day they might bring my kids joy too.

Disclaimer over, let’s move on to the decorations! Here are 10 of my favourite eco-friendly Christmas decorations to make:

Dried Orange Garland

10 zero-waste Christmas decorations made using natural and compostable materials.

Dried orange slices are pure Instagram catnip, and for good reason – they are stunningly effective. The good news is that if you want your house to look and smell amazing for Christmas, then these garlands are so easy to make. Follow House of Jade Interiors for the full tutorial.

A word of advice. Reserve the dried oranges for indoor decorations only. What I’ve found is that if you use them on outdoor decorations the oranges rehydrate and start to rot. However, if you keep them indoors, and then after Christmas store them in an airtight container, such as a jar or old Tupperware box, then you can use your dried oranges year after year.

Salt Dough Stars

Homemade Salt dough decorations

Salt dough ornaments aren’t just for kids, although you can certainly get your kids involved in making them.

This simple yet stylish Christmas scented salt dough garland can be made by following Rocky Hedge Farm’s easy tutorial. If you have any stars leftover, individual stars would also look amazing hanging on your tree or used in your gift wrapping.

As before, it’s best to use salt dough decorations for indoor decor only. And when you take your decorations down it’s best to store salt dough ornaments in an airtight container. Again, if exposed to moisture they can go damp and rot in storage.

Crochet Stars

Crochet stars pattern for a zero-waste Christmas

If you are a keen crocheter, then this one’s for you. If you have any odds and ends of wool leftover from other projects, then try making these beautiful crochet stars. The free pattern is available from Persia Lou.

Origami Star Garland

Fun eco-friendly Christmas crafts to try

If you have a collection of paper – perhaps saved from deliveries and old wrapping paper – then this origami stars tutorial from Girl About Townhouse is one to follow. You’ll be seeing stars in no time!

Foliage Candle Holders

10 Christmas decorations made using natural and compostable materials.

I love the complete and utter simplicity of these candle holders from Traumzuhause. If you’ve got some empty wine bottles and some greenery then voila, an instant zero-waste Christmas decoration. Snippings from your Christmas tree would work, as would some ivy, rosemary, or eucalyptus. Skill level zero. My kind of craft!

Paper Bag Stars

10 Christmas decorations made using natural and compostable materials.

Got a bunch of paper bags that you are never going to use? Make these beautiful paper bag stars with this tutorial from The Merry Thought. I would add that if you secure the final bag with a paperclip or two, then you will be able to fold your star flat and reuse your stars year after year.

Orange Peel Garland

Zero-waste Christmas craft ideas

This sweet and simple orange peel garland from Circle of Pine Trees is a lovely craft idea. Just remember the rules for dried fruit!

Popcorn & Cranberry Garland

Eco-friendly Christmas crafts

If you want an easy zero-waste Christmas decoration, then try this Cranberry and popcorn garland from Mountain Cravings. That is, if you don’t eat all the popcorn first!

An important note. I wouldn’t use this garland outdoors, as you’ll attract a host of wildlife. This is no bad thing, but it’s important to bear in mind that popcorn fills birds up with little nutritional benefit, at a time of year when they should be eating fat and protein-rich foods to be able to survive the winter.

Pinecone Garland

Sustainable Christmas decorations to make, using natural and compostable materials

This pine cone garland from Decor Adventures is another great decoration that can be used year after year. I personally would omit the glitter, as regular glitter is a microplastic. What’s more, it turns out even the stuff labelled as eco-friendly glitter is not great for the environment. However, even without the sparkles, this garland will still look great on your mantlepiece this festive season.

Rosemary Wreath Garland

Eco-friendly Christmas decorations to DIY

Finally, this mini wreath garland from The Merry Thought is another easy make for the festive season. Make it using rosemary, and it will fill your home with a lovely scent.

Now, if you’ll please excuse me, I’m off to get busy with some crafting!

If you have any other zero-waste Christmas decorations ideas, then please do share with the Moral Fibres community in the comments below.

Fashion, Life & Style

AD | Eco-Friendly Activewear

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Let’s chat eco-friendly activewear.

With campaigns such as secondhand September, and the rise of secondhand shopping sites such as Depop, more and more people are opting to buy clothes second-hand.

Whilst a pair of secondhand jeans or a top is one thing, for many people, there are a few things that they may be less inclined to buy secondhand. In conversations I’ve had in the past with people, items that people are generally less inclined to buy secondhand mainly include underwear, shoes, and activewear.

I’ve covered underwear and shoes on the blog before, but what about the options for eco-friendly activewear?

eco-friendly activewear
Image from BAM

What’s Wrong With Traditional Activewear?

You might be wondering what’s wrong with traditional activewear. Traditionally, activewear has been manufactured from synthetic fabrics such as polyester, nylon, and spandex. These stretchy, lightweight, and fast-drying fabrics might be good for your workout. However, these types of fabrics are non-renewable, and their production is both energy and water-intensive.

What’s more, these synthetic fabrics shed microplastics every time we wash them. These microplastic particles drain out of our washing machines, through our wastewater, and ultimately into the sea, damaging marine life, and entering the food chain.

Why About Natural Fibre Activewear?

When it comes to buying activewear, gym wear, and swimwear, it currently isn’t possible to buy 100% natural fibre clothing. Even if you could, you would sacrifice the properties that make activewear what it is. You would lose the stretchiness that allows for freedom of movement, the lightweight fabrics, the sweat-absorbing properties, and all the other elements that go into technical clothing.

What Are The Alternatives?

Over the last few years, we have seen an array of different options when it comes to eco-friendly activewear. Some of which, I think, are better than others.

You can get activewear made from recycled plastic bottles, for example. This initially sounds like a great idea to reduce plastic waste, but these fabrics still shed microplastics when they are washed. This turns a visible plastic pollution problem into an invisible plastic pollution problem on a much larger scale, in a form that’s even more likely to cause problems.

I also feel uneasy about the practice of turning plastic bottles into clothing – it doesn’t solve the plastic problem, or bring about meaningful change.

What About Bamboo?

Other manufacturers, such as BAM, use bamboo to make their activewear.

When it comes to fabric, bamboo is pretty contested as a sustainable fabric choice. On the upside, bamboo is renewable and grows quickly without the use of pesticides or herbicides. It’s strong root system stores carbon, improve soil health, and supports biodiversity. And, it only requires rainwater to grow, making it a less water-intensive crop than cotton.

On the other hand, turning something like bamboo into a soft and stretchy fabric requires the bamboo to go through a chemical-heavy, industrial process to convert it into a semi-synthetic fibre known as viscose or rayon. This process can be very polluting and harmful to workers’ health.

The scientific community is also in the relatively early stages of research into microplastic release from clothing. So far there is little known about the release of microplastics from semi-synthetic fibres such as bamboo-based viscose or rayon. Whilst there is doubt, using a laundry bag or ball designed to catch any potential microplastics would be a good call.

Introducing BAM

Whilst no option is perfect when it comes to eco-friendly activewear, I think it’s important, if you are able to, to shop from a company that is investing in greening their supply chain and treating their workers fairly, such as BAM. In the last two years, BAM says they have “traced our suppliers’ suppliers’ suppliers’ suppliers’ supplier to systematically identify all our growers, factories, plants, and manufacturers“.

By understanding and knowing their entire supply chain, this has allowed BAM to green their operations so that they only work with responsible producers. For example, they only work with bamboo fibre producers who use safe and responsible chemistry and waste treatment practices, and who are committed to investing in the technology needed to further improve their practices, processes, and chemistry where necessary.

By knowing all of their suppliers, they are also able to ensure that their suppliers are paying their staff above the national minimum wage and offering good working conditions throughout the entire supply chain.

You can read more about BAM’s work on sustainability in their 2020 sustainability report, which sets their current impact, their immediate plans, and their ultimate goals for the next ten years.

But What About the Clothes?

The good news is you don’t have to compromise your style credentials if you are after more eco-friendly activewear. BAM have you covered, with their range of stylish prints and flattering and supportive cuts for both men (size S – L) and women (size 8 – 18).

Here are some of my favourites from their women’s range:

eco-friendly activewear
BAM’s Endura Leggings in Fragment Print
BAM’s Challenge Bamboo Crop Top
ethical sportswear
BAM’s Endura Leggings in Aqueous Print
Bamboo Joggers

What I also really like is that all of BAM’s products are shipped plastic-free, right down to the protective poly bags. These are either home compostable and can be placed in your kerbside bin, or can be composted in your kerbside bin only. Don’t worry – the bag tells you exactly how to dispose of it.

plastic free packaging

Something I would like to see next is for BAM to work towards more inclusive sizing in both their men’s and women’s range, as I feel the size range is limited.

Apart from that, I think that BAM is making some really big environmental steps in the activewear market, a market that is especially prone to greenwashing. So if you are in the market for activewear then do check them out on their website – you get 10% off your first order when you sign up to their mailing list – and follow along on Instagram and Facebook.