“How to have an enviro-friendly Christmas” seems to be a hot topic in the media this year, so I won’t bother with an extensive list. I’ll just describe one idea that is, as far as I know, unique:
We don’t use a real tree as our Christmas tree, nor do we have one of those fake trees that comes in a box. Daniel and I, with the help of former housemate Bill, made our tree in 1996 and have used it every year since. We just bring it up from the basement, wipe with a damp cloth, and decorate! Here’s how we made it:
- We made a cardboard pyramid by cutting a large box into 4 tall triangles and connecting them with gaffer’s tape. Then we cut a square 2″ smaller than the base of the pyramid, pushed it up into the base, and taped it in place.
- We took a bunch of the bright green plastic bags that the newspaper comes in, cut them lengthwise to make long strips, folded each strip in half, and cut a zigzag along the fold down to about 1″ from the outer edge, resulting in two pieces of skinny triangles hanging from a strip.
- We glued the strips to the pyramid, starting around the bottom edge with the triangles hanging off, then another strip above that one with its triangles hanging down over the strip below, all the way up to the top. Okay, it took 3 jars of rubber cement, which produced harmful fumes and will not biodegrade–but it’s held up for 11 years so far, without repairs!
- We filled a large steel can (from sweet potatoes) with gravel, hot-glued it to the square in the bottom of the pyramid, and covered it with a crinkled brown grocery bag to make the trunk. This part did not last: We re-attached the trunk at least once every year for a while, then made a trunk from a small cardboard box and tried to crinkle the grocery bag such that we could pretend the box was round, and now have a trunkless tree just sitting on the table.
- We attach the decorations with thumbtacks hidden under the “needles”.
The rubber cement and thumbtacks were the only supplies needed–all the rest was reused stuff! Therefore, it cost less than $10 to make.
It’s kind of cartoony-looking, but we like it. Its resemblance to an Icehouse pyramid has been noted.
(Sorry this article is not illustrated with photos or diagrams. Someday…)
Another idea for an alternative tree: My parents have a brick wall in their house, on which they outline a tree using a tinsel garland, held by bent paperclips wedged between bricks. They hang the ornaments the same way.
UPDATE: I later wrote a more extensive article on having an environmentally friendly Christmas!