Life & Style, Special Occasions

Ethical and Eco-Friendly Christmas Decorations to Bring Festive Cheer in 2021

Are you looking for ethical and eco-friendly Christmas decorations? From plastic-free to zero-waste, and ethically made, I’ve got a host of festive ideas for you.

We all know that the best way to spread Christmas cheer is by singing loud for all to hear. However, decorating your house surely comes a close second.

Whilst using the Christmas decorations we already own is the single most ethical and eco-friendly way of decorating our homes, sometimes we do want to either replace decorations that have got broken. Accidents do happen, despite our best intentions. Or we might want to freshen up our decorations by adding some new ones into the mix.

The good news is that it is really easy to make zero-waste Christmas decorations. If crafting isn’t your thing, then you can buy Christmas decorations easily. Not all Christmas decorations are equal though. With news that inmates in Chinese prisons are forced to make Christmas decorations, and beat up, it’s important to pick Christmas decorations that are both eco-friendly and ethical.

The good thing is they aren’t hard to find. Here is my pick of the top planet and people-friendly Christmas decorations available right now in 2021.

Guide to Ethical and Eco-Friendly Christmas Decorations For 2021

A flat lay of Christmas decorations on white background with a blue text box that says guide to ethical and eco-friendly Christmas decorations.

In order to help support the running costs of Moral Fibres, this post contains affiliate links, denoted by *. Moral Fibres may earn a small commission, at no extra cost to readers, on items that are purchased through those links. This income helps keep this site running.

Nkuku’s Fairly Made and Recycled Decorations

A range of Fairtrade decorations from Nkuku

One of my favourite places to browse for ethical and eco-friendly Christmas decorations is Nkuku*. From beautiful garlands to stylish wreaths, and to gorgeous recycled glass baubles and stunning tree toppers, Nkuku sells it all.

Prices are reasonable – a set of four baubles is around £18.50 (however do expect to pay more for the larger baubles). Tree toppers are under £30, and wreaths are around £25, making them incredibly reasonable for what you get.

In terms of ethics, Nkuku works solely with sustainable, natural, and recycled materials, and focus on traditional methods of production. They support and work with skilled artisans throughout the world – from Devon to Dehli – and through rigorous management ensure these artisans are paid a fair wage and work in good conditions.

Products shown:

Etsy’s Decorations Made from Natural Materials

A range of ethical Christmas decorations from Etsy

Etsy* has always been another of my favourite places to browse for ethical and/or eco-friendly Christmas decorations. If you’ve not used Etsy before, it’s a giant marketplace full to the brim of independent crafters and makers, all selling their mainly handmade wares. It’s also got a healthy vintage department if you’re looking to pick up vintage Christmas decorations.

I’ve found a whole host of eco-friendly decorations for your perusal, all made from natural materials. From handmade macrame candy cane decorations for your tree to reusable cardboard banners that can be reused year after year. Should anything untoward happen, it can be easily be recycled at the end of its life. I’ve also found stockings made from natural linen to homemade felt decorations. However, if you can think of it, I bet you someone has made it on Etsy!

Products shown

Not On The High Street’s Reusable Decorations

Reusable Christmas decorations from Not On The High Street, including reusable Christmas crackers

Not On The High Street* is a great place to source reusable Christmas decorations. From reusable and refillable Christmas crackers to reusable banners made of natural materials, you’ll be sure to find something different that will last for years to come. I also excitingly found eco-friendly tinsel, made of felt, which is sure to please the whole family. And of course, you’ll be sure to find tree decorations made by independent makers across the UK.

Not On The High Street, in particular, is a great place to go for personalised decorations. So if you are looking for an eco-friendly baby’s first Christmas tree decoration, for example, I’m sure you’ll be able to find one made from natural materials here.

Products shown:

I’ve also got a full guide to reusable and eco-friendly Christmas crackers if you are looking for more inspiration.

Traidcraft’s Eco-Friendly and Ethical Christmas Decorations

A range of eco-friendly Christmas decorations from Triadcraft

Traidcraft* is the original fair trade pioneer in the UK. They’ve been fighting labour injustices for over four decades. Here they have been advocating the importance of organic farming, sustainability, and transparency to the lives of growers and artisans around the world.

As such, you can be confident that Traidcraft’s small but perfectly formed range of eco-friendly and ethical Christmas decorations is a great pick this festive season. Featuring baubles handmade using recycled newspaper and office waste, to fairtrade stockings, there’s everything you need to make your home festive in a low impact manner.

Products shown:

Any other eco-friendly or ethical Christmas decorations tips? I’m all ears! And while you are here, you may also be interested in my guide to the most sustainable and eco-friendly Christmas trees.

Life & Style, Special Occasions

The Most Sustainable & Eco-Friendly Christmas Tree Options In 2021

eco friendly christmas trees

Are you wondering what the most sustainable eco-friendly Christmas tree option is? Is it a real tree? Is it a fake tree? Let me reveal all in this guide to sustainable and ethical Christmas trees.

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a Christmas tree. But what about the environmental cost? With The British Christmas Tree Growers Association (BCTGA) estimating that around seven million real trees are bought each year by UK households, alongside who knows how many artificial trees, it’s no wonder that many of us are pondering what the most sustainable or eco-friendly Christmas tree option is.

Should you opt for an artificial tree, that you can retrieve from the loft every year? Or is the most environmentally friendly to opt for a newly felled tree that ends up discarded come New Year? It’s certainly an eco-friendly riddle wrapped in an enigma. Or is it?

Before you decide to shun all Christmas trees, let’s have a look at what the most sustainable and eco-friendly Christmas trees are.

What Is The Most Sustainable and Eco-Friendly Christmas Tree?

Image of a Christmas tree with a blue text box that says guide to the most sustainable and eco-friendly Christmas trees

Ready to take on this eco-friendly enigma? First, let’s take a look at how sustainable real trees are, compared to fake trees:

The Environmental Case For Real Trees

If you feel that Christmas isn’t Christmas without a real tree, then worry not. The Carbon Trust has found that real Christmas trees have a smaller carbon footprint compared to artificial trees.

According to the Trust, a natural two-metre Christmas tree that does not have roots and is disposed of into a landfill after Christmas has a carbon footprint of around 16kg of carbon dioxide.

Meanwhile, a two-metre real Christmas tree that has roots and is properly disposed of after its use has a carbon footprint of around 3.5kg of carbon dioxide. Properly disposed of in this sense means burning it on a bonfire, planting it, or having it chipped by your local Council.

This means that real trees are therefore better for the environment than fake ones. Especially so when you consider that real trees absorb carbon dioxide during their growth period, compared to fake ones that burn fossil fuels during their production.

Where to Buy A Sustainable Real Christmas Treee

Rather than buying an imported tree with a hefty carbon footprint, try and buy one that has been locally grown.

If you’re in Scotland then without a doubt the best place to purchase a real tree from Caring Christmas Trees. This is part of the Bethany Trust charity.  All of their trees are sustainably grown in Scotland from local growers. What’s more, the money raised also helps homeless and vulnerable people in Scotland.

If you’re in England then the Forestry Commission has Christmas tree sales centres dotted around the country. Here you can buy a sustainably grown, local, and eco-friendly Christmas tree.

Caring For Your Christmas Tree

To keep your tree in tip-top condition all throughout the festive season, then it’s best to buy a real Christmas tree when you want to put your tree up, rather than leaving it sitting in your house. When you bring your Christmas tree home, it’s a good idea to cut a couple of centimetres off the base of the tree to open up the pores of your tree. This is necessary, as when trees are cut, sap oozes out of the cut area. This sap hardens, creating a water-resistant seal within about 5 hours of the tree not being in water. This seal prevents the tree from absorbing much water and could shorten your tree’s lifespan.

Once you’ve cut a bit off your tree, next mount your tree in a water-holding stand filled with water. Now you’ll need to think about placement. The best place for a real Christmas tree is away from direct heat sources, such as a radiator or fire, as these will dry your tree out too quickly.

Finally, in order to keep your tree happy, treat it like a houseplant! Keep the container topped up with water every day. Trees are thirsty things.

Disposing Of Your Tree Correctly

Once Christmas is over, trees can be shredded and composted, or used in your wood burner (if you have one). If this is the case, do leave the wood to season for as long as you can, as burning green or unseasoned wood is not good in terms of particulate emissions. If you can leave at least a year between cutting and burning, then this is best to season wood.

Alternatively, most Councils offer a kerbside recycling scheme, where they will collect your tree in early January. They then shred them into chippings, which are typically used in parks.  Contact your local council for advice on tree recycling in your area.

Are Fake or Artificial Christmas Trees Eco-Friendly?

eco friendly christmas tree options

Now we know that real Christmas trees are the most eco-friendly option, you’re probably wondering what the deal is fake trees that make them not the best for the environment? Well, according to the Carbon Trust, a 2 metre high artificial Christmas tree made from plastic has a carbon footprint of around 40kg of CO2. When we compare that to a real tree, disposed of properly, that would mean a fake tree would need to be used for at least 10 years to be greener than a real tree.

Why is the carbon footprint of an artificial tree so high? As well as being made from carbon-intensive fossil fuels, the majority of artificial trees are imported, mainly from China, contributing to their carbon footprint.

This isn’t to say that all fake trees are bad for the environment. If it’s something you are going to use over the long-term then I’d say go for it. Buying a real Christmas tree every year can be expensive, and it can be more affordable to shell out a one-off cost of an artificial tree.

What to Consider When Buying An Artificial Christmas Tree

If you do choose to buy a fake tree, then buy the best you can afford in a green classic tree shape. This style won’t date unlike some of the more modern fake Christmas tree styles.  I’d also recommend buying one without in-built lights as they are difficult to fix if they break. And buying a secondhand tree via eBay or Facebook Marketplace would make for the most eco-friendly and affordable way of buying a fake Christmas tree.

We personally have a fake 6ft Christmas tree that we bought several years ago secondhand on eBay. I’m are in no hurry to replace it, and I sincerely hope we can still be using it in 50 years’ time!  We also have a smaller tree that my mum and dad have had for about forty years! I love getting it out of the loft every year. It really makes me smile and remember great Christmas memories from years and decades gone by.

What About Other Environmentally Friendly Christmas Tree Options?

If a real tree isn’t for you, and you can’t commit to using a fake tree for at least ten years, then don’t worry. There are other sustainable solutions that may fit how you celebrate Christmas and your budget.

Buy a Potted Tree

One great option for an eco-friendly Christmas tree if you have a garden is to buy a potted Christmas tree.  You can buy potted trees easily from most garden centres.  For a lower carbon footprint, look for UK-grown varieties, like Blue Spruce or Nordman.

Once Christmas is done simply pop it in your garden in its pot.  The following year you can bring it back into your house and decorate it, before putting it back in the garden again once Christmas is over.

Potted trees tend to be small – around 3 – 4 ft when you first receive them. Therefore, this option is great if you have a small house, or want to use it as an additional tree until it grows in size. It can also be quite a budget-friendly option, as potted trees tend to be less pricey than real trees.

Potted Christmas Tree Care

I know from experience that potted trees need a little bit of care to stay looking their best year after year.

We had a potted Christmas tree a few years ago.  While it was great and didn’t drop its needles as much as cut trees do, we kept ours indoors for too long.  I think it was indoors for a month. As such, it got a shock from going from a centrally heated house to an exposed Scottish garden. It took a couple of years to recover.

A potted tree is therefore a good eco-friendly Christmas tree option if you don’t put your tree up too early, and can acclimatise it slowly to life outdoors again. To do this, once you’ve taken the decorations down, leave your tree outdoors during the day. Then bring it back indoors at night for a while. Keep doing this for a few weeks until it has hardened off and can handle cold weather.

To care for your potted tree when it’s indoors, keep it away from radiators or fires. And do make sure the soil is kept moist (but not waterlogged).

At some point, you will need to repot your tree. However, your Christmas tree probably won’t need re-potted for 2 to 3 years. At this point, you can simply transfer it to a bigger pot. You can then continue to bring it indoors until it gets too big for you to carry.

When your tree gets too big you can plant it in your garden as a permanent reminder of all of the great Christmases you’ve had. Our tree is now planted in the ground in our garden, flourishing. I smile every time I look at it and think of one of our first Christmases together as a couple.

Rent a Christmas Tree

If you don’t have a garden, or don’t want the hassle of potting and re-potting a tree then I have good news. There are several companies that rent sustainable Christmas trees. This includes companies like Christmas On The Hill.

Companies like this will deliver a potted tree to your door on a date that you specify. They’ll then collect it at the end of the festive period. When they collect it they’ll then put it back outside and care for it, ready to be delivered to someone the following Christmas.  Once trees grow to be too big to rent, they are typically planted out in forests. This makes potted trees a great eco-friendly Christmas tree option.

So there we have, lots of advice on eco-friendly Christmas trees.  If you are after more ideas on how to have a greener Christmas here are some zero-waste Christmas decorations to make, as well as ideas on eco-friendly and ethical Christmas decorations. I also have lots more ideas in my Christmas tag!