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Holiday Decorating

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Choosing between an artificial tree and a real tree can be a difficult decision. Here are some things to consider while decorating for the holidays:

  • Consider buying a live tree with a rootball that is native to the area. After the holidays, plant it in your yard.
  • Recycle your real tree following the holidays—they make great mulch!
  • Decorate an indoor plant instead of a tree this year.
  • If you do purchase an artificial tree, be sure to use it for many years. Artificial trees consume energy and petroleum-based materials during their manufacture. If pre-lighted, be sure to buy one with LED (light-emitting diode) lights.


  • Invest in LED (light-emitting diode) holiday lights, which use 90% less energy than traditional incandescent lights and can last up to 100,000 hours!
  • Host an old ornament swap with friends instead of purchasing new ones. Or, take a trip to your local antique shop or thrift store to find great pre-loved decorations.
  • Check out Vandy FreeSwap! You might find free, pre-loved decorations such as wreaths, ornaments, lights, tablecloths, and more.
  • As an alternative to decorative string lights, use popcorn and cranberries, or colored raffia made with post-consumer recycled content.
  • Make your own wreaths and table centerpieces using materials from your yard or around your home.
  • Conserve energy by only leaving holiday lights turned on for a small period of time each night. You may want to place your lights on self-timers that turn your lights on and off at pre-programmed hours so you don’t forget or leave them on all night.
  • Instead of traditional paraffin wax candles, use soy candles. Made from renewable soybean oil, these candles do not emit unsafe aromatic hydrocarbons and produce less soot than paraffin candles. Soy candles are available at various local stores, including Target, Walmart, and Walgreens, and also make great gifts.

Click here to return to the Sustainable Holiday Greening Guide.