Choosing eco-friendly festive decorations

8 December 2023

3 min read

Decorating your home is a fun way to bring cheer to colder days and longer nights when you're celebrating during winter festivities. But the decorations you use could have a negative impact on the environment. Follow our advice on choosing the most sustainable options for your celebration.


Lighting can brighten our homes – especially in the depths of winter – and bring some festive spirit.

Things to consider when buying lighting

Fairy lights are a festive classic and are perfect for adding some instant sparkle. However, they contain plastic and use electricity to run. If you already own lights, the most environmentally friendly option is to keep using those you already own. But if you need to buy new lights, it’s the type of bulb that’s most important to consider:

  • Light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs are the most energy-efficient option for your decorations. They’re also more suited for outdoor use and more durable than incandescent bulbs, meaning you’ll be able to reuse them for many years
  • Incandescent (traditional) bulbs may be cheaper to buy but they’ll use more energy.

The energy label rating will give you a good indication of how environmentally-friendly lighting is – ratings range from A++ (best) to G (worst). Choosing the most energy efficient lightbulbs also has the added benefit of lowering your energy bills.

It’s also a good idea to invest in a timer for any lights you may forget to turn off when you’re not in the room with them.


Whichever holiday you’re celebrating, there may be greener options for sprucing up your mantelpiece or festive table.

Thing to consider when choosing decorations

To reduce your carbon footprint, you could consider:

  • Making your own decorations – this can be a fun weekend activity and an excuse to get family or friends together. There are many useful guides online for making DIY decorations, from Christmas crackers to Hannukah banners to Diwali hangings
  • Buying second-hand decorations – many charity shops have Christmas sections during winter, so you can support a good cause too
  • Buying Christmas cracker with recyclable treats inside, such as origami, paper games or food
  • Buying handmade decorations – this is a great option if you’re not the crafty type, and choosing items made from recycled materials will make them even more eco-friendly. You can find these on online marketplaces and in specialist shops.

Many large high-street supermarkets and online shopping sites score very low for sustainability. If you really want to take steps to minimise your carbon footprint without compromising on your festive spirit, try to shop local, buy second hand and make your own as much as possible.

Christmas trees

The debate around whether real or artificial trees are better for the planet is complicated.

Artificial trees are usually made of plastic and metals. They take a lot of energy and resources to produce and are difficult to recycle, so they have a large carbon footprint. However, an artificial tree can be reused many times. You’ll need to reuse your artificial tree for around 20 years for it to ‘pay back’ its carbon footprint. You could also consider a stylish alternative artificial tree, such as a tree made of wood, or create your own crafty tree using natural and recycled materials. There are many inspiring ideas online.

Real trees are grown for 6 to 10 years before being cut down, absorbing carbon and providing a habitat for wildlife while they grow. While experts agree that this is generally the more sustainable option, there are still some things you can do to maximise how sustainable your real tree is:

  • Buy a locally grown tree, to reduce carbon emissions from transportation. Then mulch your tree in your garden or donate it to a tree recycling programme, which will turn it into resources for your community
  • Buy a live tree, with its root ball attached. If you have an outdoor space, you can keep it outside after Christmas, where it should continue to grow and can be reused for many years.

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