Part of “Gretchen’s Journey…”
Since I have started using and embracing both the Norwex products and lifestyle, I have longed for the rest of my life to also be more free of chemicals. Stocking up on Enviro Cloths is quite easy compared to the daunting task of eliminating the toxins found in every day life. Especially at Christmas time.
Upon doing research I discovered that to be truly free of chemical toxins, one needs to eliminate almost all artificial trees, most real Christmas trees, the majority of lights and ornaments. Don’t even get me started on the havoc that candles can cause. Maybe we are supposed to sit around on these dark winter nights and mope about the loss of the traditions from our childhood? That really does not sit well with me at all.
Because I am not a chemist or an expert, I don’t know that I want to (or that I should) get into all of the research and case studies about manufacturing Christmas. Instead I have decided to to compile some suggestions on ways that you can have more of a chemical free Christmas without throwing out every decoration that you have ever collected. Not an encompassing list, but hopefully these ideas will give you an easy place to start.
OH, Christmas Tree
Artificial Most fake Christmas trees are not the best at being environmentally friendly. Especially once they have been used for a decade. The worst material component? Good ole PVC. While PVC itself is not too bad, an extra material is often added for stabilization purposes. Lead. Not exactly a great ingredient to be breathing into little (or big) nostrils). Evidently the best type of artificial tree has a new component: injection-molded polyethylene. This type of tree is much better for the environment and actually also looks more realistic.
Real Initially I thought that all real trees must be better. But then I remembered that some people feel that cutting down trees is a waste. Or that bringing in tree to lots from who knows where may also spread bugs and plant diseases from other places? Of course, for many the biggest concern is the pesticides that are often used during the warmer growing seasons. If this is important enough to you, some tree farms actually do grow organic Christmas trees.
For many people, this completely pesticide free farm option may be out of your price range. Yet do not lose heart. Your best bet is to find a tree farm near year where you can talk to those who grew the trees. You may be able to discover exactly what they used to treat bugs – perhaps it is minimal. What should you avoid? Buying your “fresh” from a tree stand or parking lot where trees are shipped into the area. Especially if the tree is coming from out-of-state. Without being able to confirm where the tree is from, you may be bringing all sorts of chemicals into your home. Some trees have been known to be treated with acetone which is not exactly flame retardant.
One more potential tree issue: the chemicals that are often added to keep trees fresher. Do not spend your money on products that are pollutants and can cause harm. Instead, make this suggested solution using lemon juice, a bit of sugar and some water. Fresh trees – fresh air.
Since they already wrap the trees in lead, why not wrap the lights too? At least that seems to be the motto. Especially when buying the lights sold in the United States, you need to be aware of this potential problems. If you happen to head over to a certain Swedish department store
found in many large U.S. cities, you may find the best kind of Christmas lights. The Europeans evidently hold themselves to a higher light standard. Not wanting to spend the extra time or money replacing yours? Simply wear gloves when installing them and make sure your little kids stay away. Washing hands is also a good idea. As for the traditional versus LED bulb in being better? That is actually up for debate.
Yes, sorry to say, that what you add to your tree can also be an issue. Am I suggesting that you get rid of your grandmother’s antique bulb collection that appears to be covered in shellac? Absolutely not! But maybe you can make sure that all of these keepsakes are out of reach of little hands or pets. Besides being a bit heartbreaking, having toxic pieces all over your floor is not great either.
As for new ornaments, think outside the box. At least the purchased box anyway. Make your own ornaments. Even better, recruit your children (or someone else’s 🙂 ) to help you decorate your tree with personal style. Need a few suggestions to get started? I have added a few “make your own ornament” pins to my “Gifts Kids Can Make” Pinterest board.
The Smell of Christmas
Now I am REALLY going to ruin your fun. Candles? Really not recommended. Especially the pack of six that you got from the dollar store. That is not to say that simply because a candle cost more money that it is better. No, the issue is again lead. Thin cylinders of this toxic metal often line the wick to help it stay in place. Breathe in the candle, breathe in the lead.
Then there is the scent. The best part of the candle causes you to breathe in unhealthy fumes. Especially if your candle is made of the traditional ingredient of paraffin. Still love having your house smell like sugar cookies without having to bake them? Consider burning your candle weekly rather than daily. Also move the candle to a large room as opposed to a bathroom.
Still want to light up your Christmas with lighted cylinders? Consider buying beeswax candles. Or even better yet, make your own. If you want a smoother candle, possibly certain soy candles would work, but you definitely want to research which brands are the best. Making your own jars of this style is surprisingly not all that complicated. Again, unscented ones are best, although using essential oils may be a possibility.
Directions on how to make both of these types of candles can be found on my “Christmas Naturally” Pinterest Board. Since you probably do not want to include kids on any hot wax projects, I thought it fit better there. 🙂 This is also the place where you can find links to articles on the technical aspects of avoiding chemicals. You can also find some links to fun Christmas potpourri recipes along with some great decoration ideas. Perfect projects for a long week-end!
Have a very blessed Christmas!