A favorite part of the holiday season for many is the tradition of decorating the house with adornments that likely include artificial materials. Whether you plan on purchasing your centerpieces, table arrangements and wreaths from a florist or crafting them yourself, there are ways to act responsibly. Here are a few techniques that will have you thinking simpler, thinking natural and thinking of our environment for a truly “green” holiday season.
Vases and bowls are the containers most often used, and people don’t even think twice about tossing them in the trash once the holidays are over – not very eco-friendly. A better idea is to keep the “recycle, reuse, refuse” motto in mind.
Consider asking your florist if you can bring your own container in for them to use or bring the florist’s vase when you’re done with the arrangement. Do you have a fishbowl, interesting looking jar or bottle lying about? Use it for your floral arrangements or buy a vase made of recycled glass.
Hold in Place, Naturally
So how will you keep everything together? Since biodegradable foam has yet to be invented, it’s a good idea to avoid using it and substitute ecological objects instead. Hana-kubari, an Asian technique using natural materials like branches, rocks, seashells and other natural products to hold flowers in place, is an option.
Since they are visually pleasing, these displays work best in clear glass containers. Though this setup won’t work for flora that require dirt, like poinsettas, you can use popular holiday flowers like roses and carnations, though they probably won’t last beyond a few days. Dried flowers are a great compromise.
Build a Natural Wreath
Many wreaths are constructed with a foam or plastic base. A wire base is preferable (remove and reuse the wire once the wreath is ready for the compost pile), but there are alternatives. Plant materials such as hay, grapevines, curly willow, birch, cedar, pine, pussy willow, baby’s breath, grasses and bay leaves make excellent backbones.
When it comes to decorating your wreath, the options are almost endless, coming in all shapes, colors and textures. Vibrant flowers like tulips and delphiniums add a twist to traditional holiday choices. Blue spruce, dogwood, evergreen and other foliage put the green in a “green” wreath. Fruits and vegetables, like pink pepperberries or tropical seedpods, also add depth and interest.
Save a Tree
Artificial Christmas trees contain non-biodegradable plastics and metals and last forever. Though real trees are recycled into compost and mulch, the process still gulps resources. Gasoline and/or electricity are expended transporting the trees, trimming and grinding them up, and shipping the final products to its destination. Enter the Norfolk Island pine, which not only looks like a miniature Christmas tree (heights range from about 12 inches to 48 inches) but also can be returned to earth.