Looking for some zero-waste holiday decorations or gifts to give? Explore all-natural and sustainable crafts below for some ideas on ways to fill your time, stimulate the mind (and hands), give to others, and create something unique this winter season!
This is part 3 of my “Eco-friendly” & sustainable art projects. You can find more eco-friendly art projects, and even info about how to incorporate Zero-waste techniques and materials into your projects below!
Explore the foliage leaf litter around you! As you search for leaves, observe any critters that rely on a healthy layer of leaf litter as they overwinter, and be sure to let them rest. How many individual tree species can you create note cards out of?
Search outside for fallen leaves! Be sure to look at the bottom of the leaf to make sure it doesn’t have any overwintering animals underneath, taking shelter.
Press the leaves between the pages of a thick, old book (protect the pages by adding paper towels or newspaper to either side of your leaves), or in a flower press.
Let the leaves dry for 3-5 days.
In the meantime, cut a piece of card stock in half, then fold those halves into your blank note card. You should be able to make 2 cards per piece of card stock paper.
When the leaves are flattened (they don’t need to be fully dried since you will be using them for just this project), remove them from the book and get your ink pads ready!
Place the leaf on a piece of scrap paper. Gently tap the ink pad all over the top of the leaf until it is fully covered with ink.
Place your blank note card cover side up, and place the leaf ink-side down on the card. Then, gently press the leaf onto the card with even pressure to transfer the ink to the paper. Be sure not to move the leaf, or the ink will smudge!
Carefully lift the leaf off of the paper, and voila! You will be able to see an imprint of the leaf, it’s cells, and veins, on the card.
Now, decorate as you wish. You could write messages on the front (“Merry Christmas!”, “Thinking of You”, “Happy Hanukkah!”, etc…) or add glitter or gold leaf. Your imagination is the limit!
All Natural Winter Garland
Sometimes holiday decorations are made with non-eco-friendly materials, such as polyester or plastics. Waste production increases by over 30% between the months of November through early January! Gift wrapping, broken lights or ornaments, fake trees and garlands are thrown out into the landfill each year. Mitigate some of that waste by making all-natural holiday decorations that can be composted or recycled after use, or used year after year. These sustainable crafts are not only made with all eco-friendly and natural materials, but also doubles as a bird feeder!
Decide which fruits you would like to use, then slice them thinly and place on a cookie sheet. I used oranges, grapefruits, and apples, however you could also use plums and pears! I also used cranberries, however these were fresh and not roasted.
Roast low and slow. I roasted the fruit for around 8 hours, at 170 degrees Fahrenheit, or until the fruits were fully dehydrated, but not burnt.
Remove the fruits from the oven and allow them to cool.
Use a skewer or bead reamer to poke holes in the sides of the fruits.
Carefully thread all-natural twine (hemp, raffia, or jute works well) through the holes in the fruit. Prevent fraying by wrapping the tail tightly in duct tape.
Be sure to leave at least 3 inches of twine on each edge of the garland to tie off.
Go outside and wrap your garland around your favorite tree! Pines, spruces, and hollies work well since the birds will find shelter as they munch away on the treats you provided.
Kitchen Herb & Flower Pots
As the days get shorter, we spend less time outside, enjoying the sunlight and living, growing things. This can have a noticeable effect on our mental well-being. Create an indoor garden with houseplants and kitchen herbs to reconnect with the natural world, even from inside!
Gather potting soil, seeds or established small herbs, toilet paper tubes, a small tray, and scissors together.
Cut 4 slits in the bottom inch of your toilet paper tube (evenly separated around the tube).
Fold those slits into one another as if you are folding the tops of a cardboard box. You now have a biodegradable plant pot! Decorate the pot with sharpie colors, twine, or ribbon.
Add your potting soil and plant your seeds or little plants as directed. If you are planting an established plant, be sure not to bury the plant too much (only to the root flare)!
Set all finished pots on your tray and place in a sunny spot, away from cold drafts, and water when the soil becomes dry.
When the plants become too big for the tiny paper pots, repot and enjoy the indoor garden! The old tubes can be composted (or directly planted into the ground if the season allows).
Catnip Cat Toys
Pets can also enjoy your zero-waste, sustainable crafts. These herbal cat toys are made with catnip, from the summer garden to enjoy all year long.
Gather dried catnip 100% cotton fabric scraps, scissors, all-natural twine, a sewing machine, and needle and thread. A small funnel and wooden skewer will be helpful, but not needed.
Fold your fabric scrap in half and cut a half circle along the fold (creating a full circle when cut out).
Fold inside-out, then sew along the un-folded edge, leaving one segment undone. This will be where you stuff the catnip through and will be finished by hand.
Turn the fabric right-side out to hide the seam.
Stuff the fabric with catnip. Leave enough room to add a twine tail!
Tie a large knot at the end of a piece of twine and insert the knot into the mouse body.
Hand-sew the rest of the mouse closed. The knot in the twine will prevent it from slipping or being torn/chewed out.
Give to your favorite kitty cat friend! They will rub all over it and play with it, loving the scent. They don’t care what the mouse looks like, as long as it has catnip in it, so this is a great way to practice your sewing skills!
Not confident in your sewing skills or don’t have the materials on hand, but still want to treat your furry friends right? You can find zero-waste catnip cat toys in my shop, all handmade and utilizing scrap fabric and twine from previous events & programs. The catnip is pesticide free and from my garden.