December 2, 2019

Go red, white, and GREEN this holiday season with these earth-friendly gift and decor ideas — plus local tree farms where you can chop your own Christmas tree.

The holiday season is notoriously wasteful. Wrapping paper, candles, cards, and decorations often produce more mess than reusable materials, but buying or making the right holiday trimmings can clean up this season’s environmental footprint.

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A chronic problem with holiday gifts is: REQUIRES BATTERIES, SOLD SEPARATELY. Instead of stocking up on a lump size box of AA, look for gifts that don’t use batteries. Batteries produce chemical waste, which is often not properly disposed. Minimize toy waste by choosing toys that don’t require extra energy or use rechargeable batteries.

Think about what gifts will mean the most to your child before reaching for the last, endlessly packaged gadget on the shelf. Shadow boxes display all your child’s school and activity mementos, cooked dishes always help fill up holiday appetites, and gifting an experience like tickets to a sports game or concert requires no physical waste and little to no wrapping.

Nearly half of U.S. consumers said they would consider giving used apparel as a present this year, according to a study from Accenture. Even more would welcome gifts from resale markets. Instead of lugging around plastic shopping bags, and then throwing them away, visit your closet and re-gift that still nice jacket you’ve out grown.

Send Less Paper
When you print or buy your holiday cards, opt for cards made from recycled paper and leave a note to encourage the recipient to recycle. Also, e-cards send sweet sentiments with a variety of animations and images available without producing any paper waste.

Wrap It Up
Large sheets of wrapping paper should be salvaged for another use instead of going to the landfill. Unfortunately, most wrapping paper won’t last, so use eco-friendly wrapping paper. String Theory, Wrappily, Root Cause, Second Coat, Got You Covered, and Pretty in Ink are a few of the brands offering eco-friendly, recycled wrapping papers.

O Sustainable Tree
Holiday trees add seasonal charm to the house, and decorating the tree is a tradition beloved by many families. Check out our guide below to finding the right tree for your family without adding to the end of the season waste.

Outshine the Season
LED lights use less energy and last longer than other bulbs. These bulbs will help you cut down on wire and glass waste each year, and they will lower your electric bill. Plus, turning off your lights overnight saves energy, prolongs bulb life, and saves your bill.

Wax Away the Time
Whether you use candles as a central part of your holiday tradition or to brighten the house, pay attention to the wax blend used. Instead of using paraffin blends, check out beeswax, palm, soy, or olive oil candles. Also, LED menorahs and kinaras made with wooden or recycled materials reduce waste year after year.

Local First
When preparing your holiday meals, check out local farmer’s markets first. New Orleans is a hub of markets including the Bucktown Harbor Farmers Market, Old Metairie Farmers Market, Crescent City Farmers Market, and the French Market.

Organic Options
Key ingredients in your favorites dishes have organic choices found in your grocery store. Organic potatoes, ham, and fixings can replace mass produced foods.


Eco-Friendly Christmas Tree Guide

Louisiana is home to several Christmas tree farms that are proud members of the Southern Christmas Tree Association. These farms allow families the bonding experience of traveling to fields of fresh pine and choosing the perfect tree for their homes. Below are a few of these farms.

🎄Steele’s Christmas Tree Farm
56459 Dollar Rd., Angie. Cut your own tree at this farm that plants more than they cut down each year. They support recycling trees into mulch or using trees to help with Louisiana coastal restoration. The farm also features hayrides, a gift shop, and more fun for the family during your visit. 

🎄Shady Pond Tree Farm
37226 Pine St. Ext., Pearl River. Keep a living Christmas tree in your home this year. This farm offers families the option to cut their own tree or keep a live, potted Christmas tree. Potted trees allow you to plant your tree after the season is over, so there is no post-season waste.

🎄Country Pines
81332 Jim Sharp Rd., Covington. Travel to the Northshore for an all-inclusive tree-cutting experience at this choose-and-cut farm. Families select a tree in the field, and they can cut their own tree or let the staff cut it for them. The trees are $7/foot. Once cut, the staff prepares the tree for its journey home. Open 8 am–5 pm every weekend after Thanksgiving.

🎄Tiger Branch Christmas Trees
18075 Tiger Branch Rd., Covington. A choose-and-cut Christmas tree farm featuring Carolina sapphire, Leyland cypress, Murray cypress, and Virginia pine trees. Call 985.893.5520 for more information about their 2019 tree season.

🎄Christmas Town
23237 Highway 1057, Kentwood. Look for this family-owned, choose-and-cut tree farm in Tangipahoa Parish offering trees from 3–12 feet. The farm opens starting on Nov. 28. Also offered is a gift shop and horse and buggy rides.

🎄Yawn Station Christmas Tree Farm
29400 Ruby Purivs Rd., Independence. Yawn Station provides saws, carts, and netting, but the best part is the train ride through the farm to find the perfect tree, which include a wide variety of tree species ranging from 3–13 feet in height. Opens Nov. 23; closes Dec. 14.

Artificial Trees

Unfortunately, artificial trees are not wholly eco-friendly or recyclable. However, many families may need to opt for artificial due to allergies or size restrictions. In this case, consider the best options for your family when buying an artificial tree.

If possible, select a PVC-free tree. PVC-free trees do not use the same chemicals that give off gases from petroleum-based plastics. If you don’t find a PVC-tree that fits your lifestyle or budget, consider buying a used tree. Previously used trees already released their gases. LED trees are the better pre-lit options, too.

Your tree should save you from shopping for a new one each year, so find one that matches your home and decorations the best to prevent throwing it out next year. When you do tire of your tree, consider donating it or selling it to another family instead of throwing it away.

Alternative Trees

Believe it or not, it is possible to capture the charm of a Christmas tree without a plastic or pine tree in your home. Multipurpose crafts and decorations can be fashioned into a tree shape during the holidays, and there are a lot more options out there, so feel free to get creative when you’re getting festive this year.

Upholstery fashioned to Christmas tree-shaped cardboard is entirely recyclable, lightweight, and easy to store. Pick out your favorite holiday print, or ask the kids to choose, and make the tree that fits your style. Plus, darker fabrics can layer on top of lighter fabrics, so you can change up the pattern next year to keep your Christmas style fresh.

Consider the wall and floor space as tree space by hanging lights in a swooping pattern to brighten the room with some Christmas spirit without filling it with prickly branches. Chalkboards also offer interesting possibilities as a tree drawing can be covered in new and unique ornaments each day. Many chalkboards and wall panels are magnetic, so you can hang decorations across your wall tree, too, to give it a little three-dimensional pop.

Decorate your tree with the love and holiday wishes from your loved ones. A simple triangular backing with thread stretched across it can be used to hang holiday cards like ornaments on a tree.

Wooden plank trees can take many forms. Attach sturdy wooden planks to the wall shortening in length as you go up to create shelves that also function as the silhouette of a tree. Fill each wooden shelf with favorite Christmas photos, cards, ornaments, and decorations. These shelves can be altered during the year to provide year-round storage.


Thyme Hawkins is an editorial intern with Nola Family and our sister publication, Nola Boomers. She is a student at Loyola University, class of 2021.

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