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6 Eco-Friendly Tinsel Alternatives to DIY This Holiday Season

Tinsel is a sparkly (and plastic) holiday favorite. Try these alternatives for some sustainable nostalgia.

sustainable alternatives to tinsel
Written by
Mia Barnes
holiday season
finds most people busily decorating the interiors and exteriors of their homes for the festive days ahead. And while this is a joyful undertaking, it's also a wasteful one. Americans spend
around $63 on holiday decorations
each year, tossing about
25% more trash
throughout the season than at any other time of year. This is why finding sustainable alternatives to classic decorations like tinsel is essential for a truly happy holiday.
Though it may mimic sparkling ice (and we all love seasonal shimmer) modern tinsel is made using
past iterations
were crafted using silver and even lead. It may be time to move on from this nostalgic favorite in favor of options that are equally charming but far better for the environment.
Here, six sustainable alternatives to tinsel.

6 Sustainable Alternatives to Tinsel

1. Garland or Found Greenery

sustainable alternatives to tinsel
Live Christmas trees are the
most sustainable option to purchase
, and the same goes for garlands. Artificial garlands may last longer, but live trees provide copious environmental benefits, and their branches and discards are easily composted post-celebration.
Head to your local Christmas tree farm or lot to stock up on fresh garland, or take a day trip to a park, forest, or even your own backyard to glean natural decor. Pinecones, branches, and berries may be all you need to elevate your mantelpiece.

2. Strands of Cranberries or Christmas Berries

To recreate the shiny appeal of glass or plastic beads and silvery tinsel, gather your loved ones for an evening of cranberry or Christmas berry stringing. Cranberries will only last the season—compost them or leave them out for local creatures once you're done—but Christmas berries harden to something like beads, meaning that you can use your strands for years to come.
For extra shimmer, add a touch of
plastic-free glitter
and position near your favorite holiday lights.

3. Popcorn Garland

This one's a classic. Making a popcorn garland might be time-consuming, but it's ideal for echoing the nostalgia that comes with tinsel. Plus, the craft is family-friendly, and the garlands look great just about anywhere in your home for instant charm. Simply pop your favorite kernels and string with a needle and thread.
Fun fact: Popcorn garlands can actually be stored for future use! But should you want to dispose of them post-holiday, simply compost or deconstruct and leave outside as a welcome snack for critters and migrating birds.

4. Dried Citrus Garland

sustainable alternatives to tinsel
This eye-catching decoration can help minimize your
food waste
while maximizing your seasonal aesthetic. Save your citrus, slice, bake, and thread for a gorgeous garland you may want to leave up through January. Full tutorial

5. Paper Chains

sustainable alternatives to tinsel
The tradition of Christmas wishes can carry on in the form of a paper chain you make with the rest of your household. Make the craft even more special by having kids or loved ones write positive wishes and things they love about the season on the inside or outside of each ring, the better to be immortalized. And make sure you favor recyclable paper or old wrapping scraps!
Another fun option is to recycle any
holiday greeting cards you saved
from last year by forming chain links with them. That way, seasonal sentiments and festive cheer can pass from past to future.

6. Paper Tinsel

Making your own DIY tinsel from
paper is an easy and sustainable means of enjoying this sentimental decoration—especially if you have children. Have them create small stacks of tissue paper and cut small strips to mimic traditional tinsel. (Make sure to supervise any young children with scissors.) Creating this adornment together can
promote your child's motor skills
and help them have fun creating decor that will be displayed in their home.
Even if you don't have children, paper tinsel is a cute and
easy DIY
. Once the holidays are over, simply save, recycle, or compost!

Choose Your Substitutes Wisely

While tinsel isn't a fantastic option for most households, only some substitutes are worth your money and energy. Overall, you have to choose which substitution is suitable for you and your decorating needs.
As long as you work toward a more sustainable lifestyle, you can enjoy every moment and the decor you surround yourself with—and DIY options tend to make the season feel all the more festive! Making a tinsel substitution is one quick way to change your holiday for the better.