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8 Easy Ways to Celebrate the 2021 Holidays with Eco-Friendly Green Tips

How to Make This Year an Eco-Friendly Green Holiday

‘Tis the season to be ever-green! What better time than the winter holidays to commit to an eco-friendly celebration? Our ace correspondent Julie Chang Murphy has done the research, and she’s sharing easy tips and answers for those who are wondering how to make 2021 an eco-friendly green holiday this year, including the best sustainable trees, gift wrap, lights, home décor and more.

who’s up for a sustainable holiday season?

One sobering fact during the 2021 holiday season is that Americans throw away about 25% more trash than during any other time of the year —culminating in 6 million more tons of waste. That’s a sure way to land on Santa’s naughty list.

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Being festive doesn’t have to mean a shock and awe avalanche beneath the tree, with glitter wrapping paper and metallic bows that can’t be recycled. Or stringing up a zillion lights that use up enough energy to power the whole country of El Salvador for an entire year. And as for just how much fruitcake is thrown out every year, the world may never know.

How to make this a sustainable green holiday: trees, gift wrap, lights, home décor and more.

How to make this a sustainable eco-friendly green holiday: trees, gift wrap, lights, home décor and more.

There are so many responsible and thoughtful ways to celebrate the 2021 holiday season without saying Bah Humbug to meaningful traditions. Read on for some of our top sustainable ideas that can be seamlessly incorporated into your holiday preparations.

easy tips on how to make 2021 an eco-friendly green holiday celebration

1. Eco-friendly Holiday Trees

Contrary to popular perception, a re-usable artificial tree is 10x more harmful to the environment than a real one. Consider the chemical-laden PVC and steel, which can’t be recycled. And the greenhouse gas emissions and energy used to ship them from China. But if you already have one, don’t beat yourself up. You can offset its environmental impact by using it for 10 or more years.

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If you want a live tree, and want to be sure that it lives to see another holiday, you can rent one! Companies like The Living Christmas Co. or Rent-A-Christmas deliver a tree that has been potted in soil and retrieve for repotting until the following year (provided the renter doesn’t kill it, of course.)

How to make this a sustainable green holiday: eco-friendly trees.

How to make this a sustainable green holiday: eco-friendly holiday trees.

If you prefer to chop your own holiday tree (because who doesn’t want that quintessential holiday photo-op at least once?) then consider going to a local, sustainably grown farm with FSC certification. And don’t forget, most townships have post-holiday recycling services that repurpose old Christmas trees. And businesses like Home Depot often have drop-off locations that accept discarded trees free of charge.

2. Eco-friendly holiday gift wrap

 We count ourselves amongst those who have gone overboard in the gift wrap department. Gorgeous papers with glitter and metallic trims and a pile of of ribbons, tchotchkes and baubles on top – you know the look.

Even those who save wrapping paper and  bows with the best of intentions often end up throwing them away (or storing them in a way that crumples them) before the next year’s holiday rolls around.

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Fortunately, there are plenty of options for beautifully designed and eco-friendly gift wrap and wrapping paper. For example, Wrappily produces fresh, modern patterns on 100% recyclable newsprint. Also, check out Wrappr, a company that manufactures organic and biodegradable textiles inspired by the Japanese tradition of furoshiki fabric wraps.

Another Japanese import to help with sustainable gift wrap is washi tape. It’s made from renewable and biodegradable resources like gampi tree, bamboo, hemp, rice, or wheat. You’ll find it in an infinite variety of prints and patterns. And we promise: you’ll never want to use boring, transparent tape again.

How to make this a sustainable green holiday: trees, gift wrap, lights, home décor and more.

How to make this a sustainable green eco-friendly holiday: trees, gift wrap, lights, home décor and more.

3. Energy-Saving LED lights

 Whether you’re a white lights or colored lights devotee, make those strands LED. They are 90 percent more efficient than traditional Christmas lights and last longer too. Better yet, consider solar powered string lights.

During the day, the solar panel converts the sunlight into electrical energy stored in the rechargeable battery. The string lights will automatically light up at night and we love these that have a larger bulb for a vintage look.

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4. Eco-friendly holiday home décor

Of course you can have all the children in your life craft holiday decorations for you out of yarn, paper and pinecones, but let’s face it- no one wants their home to look like a kindergarten classroom.

How to make this a sustainable green holiday: trees, gift wrap, lights, home décor and more.

We love the rustic, old-fashioned charm of stringing together popcorn and cranberries and making garlands out of old jewelry, trinkets, and memorabilia. For a luxurious touch, vintage glass ornaments can always be found on 1st dibs and ebay.

5. Homemade holiday gifts

Has lockdown helped you perfect your bread loaf, cake decorating or cookie baking? Put those skills to use this holiday season! We’ve all been stuck at home cooking ad nauseam that anything new (and delicious) will be a welcome gift.

How to make this a sustainable green holiday: homemade gifts.

How to make this a sustainable green holiday: homemade gifts.

If you’re the crafting type, adding that personal touch with their monogram, that special inside joke, or a reference to a fond memory will go further than usual in this year of social-distancing. Our friends at Good Housekeeping came up with this list of 75 ideas that are chic and surprisingly do-able.

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6. Eco-friendly Holiday Cards and E-Cards

Here’s a true holiday horror story: 2.65 billion Christmas cards are sold each year in the U.S. could fill a football field 10 stories high. Eek.

That doesn’t have to mean the end of the holiday greeting card. Look for cards from eco-friendly companies like Paper Culture, which prints on 100% recycled paper and plants a tree with every order. There are even cards made from seeds that you can plant and grow wildflowers from! Mind blown.

E-cards are another option and Paperless Post has the most stylish and easy to send options. You can even send by text with customized photos, gifs, stickers and effects.

7. Sustainable Entertaining

 Sometimes you have to pick your battles when faced with the choice of using fancy china or disposables. If you’re entertaining lots of people (and butterfingered children) or don’t want to be stuck doing dishes until midnight, disposable serve ware certainly has its allure. We did a whole piece here on sustainable alternatives for straws, plates, cups and decorations.

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8. Shop Local

 One of the most meaningful ways you can make a difference this holiday season is shopping local. It’s a triple whammy that helps reduce your carbon footprint, support your local community and create jobs.  Don’t forget farmer markets and craft fairs!

It’s also time to reconsider the gift card if you have previously written them off as too impersonal. This year, they are a lifeline to struggling restaurants and boutiques that help shape the character of a neighborhood.

make 2021 an eco-friendly green holiday celebration with these easy tips

Those are our easy tips and ideas on how to celebrate an eco-friendly, green, sustainable holiday 2021, including trees, gift wrap, lights and home décor.

’Tis the season to be ever-green and even save some green! Stick to these tips to help guarantee many more happy holidays for generations to come. Have a wonderful holiday season, dear reader.

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This article contains affiliate links to products independently selected by our editors. As an Amazon Associate, Dandelion Chandelier receives a commission for qualifying purchases made through these links. 

Crediting her training as a cultural anthropologist at Wellesley College, Julie has immersed herself in various industries in the last 15 years including fashion design, event planning, and fitness. Julie lives in New York where she loves trying every ramen and dumpling restaurant with her husband and three children. She finds joy in bold prints, biographies of fierce women, kickboxing. And spending way too long finding the perfect polish color to express her mood.

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