What would Christmas be without the traditional plastic tinsel?
Answer: a lot more environmentally friendly….
What’s the issue with tinsel and glitter?
Christmas consumerism leads us to try and sparkle everything, but the problem is the plastic involved.
Plastic is not biodegradable and the tinsel used at Christmas is not recyclable and so is often binned. This means sending the tinsel to landfill to remain for a long time to come – a long lasting negative impact on the planet.
The materials used to manufacture tinsel and glitter are very small pieces of plastic and soon break up in the environment to even smaller pieces – so called microplastics. Microplastics (and even smaller nanoplastics) are a globally significant environmental pollutant – due to their small size they can find their way into our oceans and soils very easily.
Microplastics and nanoplastics then make their way into the food chains – including our own.
This is a particular problem with glitter – usually but not always made of plastic. The particles are so small that they spread easily – proof of this is when you find a small piece of glitter on your desk or face. How on earth did it get there?!
By avoiding plastic tinsel and glitter we can help reduce the plastic waste and plastic pollution that comes from our Christmas celebrations.
What can I use instead?
Alternatives include pom pom garlands (pictured) which can be multicoloured and brighten your tree up. They are fully reusable and if you are feeling creative, you could even make your own!
Ribbon (non-plastic, of course) is a great substitute for tinsel. Buy ribbon in different lengths and colours and easily wrap around the Christmas tree. When Christmas is over you can use the ribbon for other purposes throughout the year – multi-purpose ribbon! You can also make ribbon bows to dot around your tree.
Natural items make great decoration; liven up your tree with pine cones, pine branches, cinnamon sticks, dried oranges etc.
Of course, if you have tinsel left over from previous years we are not suggesting you don’t use it. Please re-use it and don’t ever bin it. Keep it covered well for the rest of the year so it doesn’t get dusty and dull, and it will last many years. Reuse of old tinsel means that it doesn’t go to landfill, and reduces demand for new plastic tinsel.
Some manufacturers are offering “plastic fee” tinsel and glitter, but do take care to ensure this is genuinely the case.
There are some other options to think about at https://www.countryliving.com/…./alternatives-to-tinsel/.
This Christmas, try to skip the glitter and tinsel. Please don’t buy any new; being more sustainable at Christmas can make a genuine difference if we all try!