Over the past week, our lovely Y.O.U Christmas elves have been busy transforming our shop into a sustainable winter wonderland! This got us thinking about how much we all love making our homes and spaces festive, but also how unsustainable and wasteful this process can often be.
So, we thought we would share some behind-the-scenes pics of our decorating process, how we make this as sustainable as possible, and a few festive ideas for you to try out at home for whatever celebrations you have coming up!
1) Rediscover and repurpose already loved decorations
One of the best ways we could make the shop not only look great, nut also not cost the earth, was to use what we already had! We took a trip into the loft, and down memory lane, to rediscover our forgotten holiday decorations from years gone by and repurpose them for another year of festivities.
We found boxes and boxes of old baubles, fairy lights and fabric ornaments and dusted them off to give them a chance to shine once again! These ornaments have great sentimental value for us, reminding us of our first Christmas with a shop in the Covered Market and our first few years as a business and so we definitely didn't want to just leave them in the loft!
2) Natural and biodegradable ornaments:
We also managed to source a few extra decorations this year and found some lovely recycled paper snowflakes to decorate the windows and ceiling. When buying anything new for the festive period, try and pick ornaments that are made from natural and biodegradable materials so that they have a lower ecological footprint. You can also look in charity shops, as many stock Christmas decorations that are other pre-loved, or sourced from Fairtrade and other local makers.
We opted for wooden ornaments and pine cones alongside these biodegradable snowflakes because they give the shop a cosy, rustic charm but also decompose if thrown away, leaving no harmful residue behind.
You could also use dried citrus slices, holly branches and cinnamon sticks to not only make your space look amazing, but also smell incredible!
3) DIY decorations
Another way to make this year's decorating more sustainable is to unleash your creativity and add a unique touch to your home by crafting your own decorations. For example, create a homemade wreath using fallen or foraged branches and design personalised ornaments with recycled materials. This can also be a great activity to spread the festive cheer and make some special holiday memories with friends and family.
4) Sustainable tree choices
When it comes to choosing the centrepiece of your holiday decor - the Christmas tree - making an eco-friendly choice is essential. We choose not to have a Christmas tree in the shop to reduce waste (and mess!) but there are some great options if you are planning on having one!
In our opinion, the best option for a living tree is a potted one. These trees stay living and then can be planted outdoors after the festivities are over. There are an increasing number of shops and garden centres that sell or rent live Christmas trees, but if this is not an option for you, make sure to pick a local and sustainably harvested tree (look for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification label!).
5) When the festivities are over...
As much fun as decorating for the holidays is, we also need to consider what is going to happen come January (we don't want to think about it either!!). Key to making your decorations more sustainable is thinking ahead to the ways you can recycle, store for use next year, or dispose of your decorations in the most environmentally friendly way possible.
As much as you can, try and store your homemade and natural decorations in cool, dry places so that they don't get damaged over the year and can be used again. When it comes to your tree, make sure to either plant it (if you purchased a potted tree) or participate in a tree recycling programme in your community. These schemes turn your used Christmas tree into mulch or compost and are a great way to make sure the tree doesn't end up in landfill!
For those of you local to Oxford, the Garden of Oxford now provides a tree recycling scheme as well as the Council Tree collections.
We had such a festive time decorating our shop, and hope this guide will give you a few ideas for how you could mix sustainability and Christmas cheer in your decorations this year!
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