My Wreath Environmental Manifesto

Christmas WreathIts August and I’m going to mention the C word!  Christmas! … I’m already planning for this Christmas and the Wreath Workshops that I run.  In fact, I took my first booking  back in February! 

I love running my Wreath Workshops but since I started holding them 3 years ago the world has woken up to the startling impact our use of plastic has on the environment. Remember this iconic episode from Blue Planet?  I have become increasingly aware that the materials I use in my wreaths and in my workshops are part of this debate.

So, I decided to do some research to better understand the materials involved in making a wreath to make sure that they support the values I hold.  Here’s a summary of the issues as I see them:


I’ve been running Christmas and Autumn Wreath Workshops for 3 years and have helped approximately 400 people to make their own wreaths. I’ve always used floral foam (or Oasis) bases for the wreaths I make and, in my workshops, for 2 main reasons:

~ It allows anyone to make a wreath. Even those that say “I‘m really not creative” can easily make a beautiful Christmas Wreath under my guidance

~ The wreath (if watered) will last a long time, way beyond Christmas anyhow!

But I have come to realise that floral foam is made of plastic and chemicals and cannot be recycled.  I always suggest that the floral foam base can be used again, and in my experience can be used up to 6-8 times but I’m not sure this always happens.  There is work afoot in the floristry industry to make floral foam bio-degradable but at the moment there is not an option for the foam rings I use.

Alternatives include a pre-made moss and straw ring which foliage can simply be added to or a DIY moss and wire ring which is made by binding moss to a wire ring with string or wire. It appears that the moss and wire ring can be watered and could last for a similar amount of time to the foam wreaths, and the moss and straw wreath would be harder to water and would therefore not last as long.

Wreath Materials

Christmas wreath making table


I forage for foliage to decorate my wreaths and for use in my workshops in a responsible manner, taking prunings and cuttings from gardens and hedgerows (both rural and urban) in a considerate manner, never without asking or with undue care.  In fact, I believe my cutting and pruning helps keep hedgerows in check and stimulates healthy growth.  I never cut all the Holly berries from a tree and always leave a fair amount for wildlife to feed on.  Likewise, whilst collecting cones I always leave some behind for others.

I do have to buy some foliage (e.g. Spruce) to make up the wreaths as I could never forage enough for all the wreaths I make; let alone for the workshops I deliver.


I will ensure that any foliage or moss that I buy comes from a sustainable source and is ethically harvested and where possible I will buy trimmings that would have been thrown away.

 I will forage in a respectful and responsible manner to ensure my pruning has as little impact on the local environment as possible.

I intend that the materials I use to make my Wreaths for sale contain all reusable or recyclable materials – so that means I will be moving to a moss and wire framework for my wreaths instead of using a floral foam base.


In my workshops this year I will expand my offering so that some workshop attendees use moss and wire and I will discuss options with those already booked to see what would work best. My aim is to move to Floral Foam Free Workshops in 2020.


I will make sure that all waste from my workshops is disposed of in the right way with green waste being composted and any other waste recycled as much as possible.

I wanted to share this as it feels like being environmentally conscious is an important part of both my personal and working life and it would be remiss of me to not review what I’m doing and to not make changes to how I work if I can.  Let me know what you think below by leaving me a comment or ask any questions.



P.S.  If you want to book a Wreath Workshop this Autumn or Christmas please get in touch.  I deliver Workshops for Groups with a minimum number of 5 people either in your home or at a venue you’ve organised.  I’ve delivered to Book Clubs, groups of friends and WI Groups, and been appointed by School PTA’s, Charities and Church Groups to run Wreath Workshops as fundraisers.  I will also be running some ticketed events in the Redhill area so sign up to my newsletter if you want to know when these are announced.  

Oh Christmas Tree

In January this year I posted about how sad I felt seeing all the used real Christmas Trees left outside homes waiting to be collected by our local council to be recycled.

It made me wonder about the environmental Pros and Cons of real trees and fake trees.  Having a fake tree in the loft and having used this for over 10 years interspersed with real ones, made me want to find out which was best.  There are 3 options if you want a tree inside this Christmas:  Fake, a cut real tree or a pot grown real tree.  Below I try to lay out the pros and cons of each.

Carbon Footprint:  The Carbon Trust state that ‘An artificial tree needs to be used for 10 Christmases for it to have a lower carbon footprint than a real one’.  But to keep their carbon footprint down ‘real trees need to be properly recycled, either by being chipped or burnt’.  It seems that how the tree is disposed of is more significant that where it came from when it comes to offsetting the production.  They have some great advice on how to reduce your carbon impact generally over Christmas here.

Food Miles: Most fake trees are made in China and shipped all over the world.  A locally grown or sourced cut or pot-grown tree is the kindest route when thinking of transportation and there is nothing nicer than going out to choose your own tree.  It’s also good to know that you are supporting local businesses and the communities around them.  You can find a registered Christmas Tree Grower local to you on the British Christmas Tree Grower’s Association Website

Cost: One of the greatest benefits of an artificial tree is you can use them year after year.  I love this article from The Daily Mail about a tree that has been used by the same family for over 120 years.  Not sure my tree from B&Q will make it as a family heirloom!

Recycling:  So, it appears from the comments from The Carbon Trust above that how recycling a real Christmas Tree is more important than the production process.  So firstly, yes, my local Council take Christmas Trees from those registered with their Green Waste Scheme in January and compost them and I believe many other Councils offer this service in January.  Other organisations also take them and recycle them for different purposes including The National Trust to support the dunes at Formby beach near Merseyside.

Most organisations agree that the best tree to buy is a locally gown tree in a pot with its roots.  You can then plant it outside after Christmas: no need for recycling and you will add to the winter interest in your garden.  I would say add that it’s best to plant the tree in the ground, rather than leave it in the pot as pots are pretty high maintenance to look after and it will much prefer to get its roots in the ground!  Or another solution is to see if you can rent a pot-grown tree for Christmas and hand it back in January to be planted elsewhere!  Locavore is a social enterprise based in Glasgow which helps build a more sustainable local food system including the provision of a farm shop, veg box scheme and other initiatives including a Christmas Tree Rental Scheme!

 So, in summary:

·         If you’re buying a real cut tree, it’s best to buy from a local supplier.  Most cut trees take about 8 years to grow to the size most of us want and are cut in November ready for sale.  TOP TIP: run you’re your hands through the branches.  If its fresh the needles will look bright and green and shouldn’t fall off. 

·         If you buy a potted tree it will likely be much smaller as it may have only be growing 1-2 years.  It can be planted in your garden (or someone else’s) after Christmas.

·         Keep your tree watered when you get it home as your central heating will zap it.

·         Recycle your tree! This is the most important bit – it mustn’t end up in landfill – take advantage of any recycling schemes run by your local Council or chip it up for use as a mulch in your garden.

·         If you’re opting for a fake tree, choose something you’re going to be happy to use for at least 10 years if not longer!

Let me know what you think and what you’ll be doing this year.  I’m not sure what we will be using – I think my little girl usually as the final say, so we shall see!

Have a great Christmas

Renée x