• Buy from a small-scale sustainable grower and/or make sure your Christmas tree has Forest Steward Council (FSC) accreditation. See www.soilassociation.org/christmas for a list of producers.
• Have a live Christmas tree in a pot that you can take outside to the garden and use next year.
• If replanting isn’t an option and you buy a cut tree then don’t throw it out with the rubbish. Most local councils run Christmas tree recycling schemes, or try www.letsrecycle.com
• Londoners can buy trees from The Christmas Forest – www.christmasforest.co.uk – farmed from sustainable sources. For each tree sold, another is planted in Burkina Faso through Tree Aid.
Dried fruit garland
Easy to make, use dried oranges, lemons and limes, pinecones, bundles of cinnamon sticks, popcorn strings or shiny objects such as CDs hanging from a thread.
Duck eggs decorations
Poke two small holes and blow out the contents of eggs to make a nice omelette. Decorate the shells with paint, glitter and any objects you can find.
String together old buttons into a ‘necklace’ to hang. Attach a brooch or old jewellery to a coloured ribbon.
Salt dough decorations
Mix 1 cup flour, 1 cup table salt and ½ cup water. For some natural colouring, mix coffee, cocoa, boiled beetroot juice, lime jelly, herbal tea bags or berry juice to the water before mixing. Place on a baking tray in the oven on 50ºC for 30 minutes. Then turn up to 100ºC. After an hour, remove from the tray and rest directly on an oven rack to dry out from both sides. Cover with aluminium foil to prevent browning. They are ready when they sound hollow after being tapped, but this can take all afternoon, so be prepared!
Old sari fabric decorations
Paste old fabric cuts on to recycled cardboard or Tetra Pak.
Decorate shelves, mantelpieces or tables with fircones gathered out on a walk, cuttings from the garden or ivy, fresh holly and berries (any kind of red berry)
Try fruit pierced with cloves or mixed with cinnamon sticks.
Remember the old jeans you were planning to give to charity? Instead, make a pattern out of news print, attach it to the material and cut out. Turn the pieces inside out and stitch up the sides. Use a sewing machine or stitch by hand. Decorate with beads, paints and other accessories.
This article first appeared in the Ecologist December 2008
For ethical and sustainable suppliers of Home and Business goods and services check out the Ecologist Green Directory here