Transforming trash into quirky Christmas decorations

By Miriam Chacko

CHRISTMAS IS A SEASON of giving but also excess. Money is squandered over buying gifts for family and friends, decorating the house from top to bottom and cooking extravagant meals. Some of the expenses and few may argue all are wasteful (humbug!).

My concern however lies in the decorations department. The amount of plastic and other non-renewables that go into making Christmas trees, wreaths and mistletoe is in my opinion wasteful. After all, the props are for the house for the family to enjoy and not for Broadway. At the risk of sounding like Scrooge, I propose to go DIY this Christmas and I don’t mean buying parts from IKEA and assembling them.

Allow me to explain with an example. Sarah Thomas is a textile designer by profession and is notorious for making all her Christmas decorations from scratch and from scraps. In the lead up to Christmas Sarah has been reusing and recycling, better yet transforming junk lying around her house. So far, she had made miniature Christmas trees from old newspapers, Christmas balls from used candle moulds and stars from take-away menus.


xmas candle collage2

How to transform tealight candle casings into sweet Christmas decorations.

star using take-away menus

Making a Christmas star with take-away menus

Her house is a gallery of stuff toys, origami birds, dream catchers and suchlike trashformations made from toilet paper rolls, tissue boxes, plastic and glass bottles, singled out toe socks and more.

toilet roll owl

A sleepy owl made from a toilet roll.

Toe sock turtle

Got holes in your toe socks? Turn them into quirky plush toys.

After working on environmental campaigns and nagging people about the 3Rs – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle – I can’t help but realise that these trashformations are great examples of 3R at home. But just like segregating waste can be a tall order for adults, doing art and craft when you just want to get to the next level of candy crush can be a tall order for some children and (ahem) for some adults.

This year, however I am optimistic about my decision to DIY the heck out of Christmas. Perhaps, this project has the potential to offset my carbon footprint for the year 2014 (perhaps, a little too optimistic).

So here’s wishing you a ‘trashformed’ Christmas and an offsetting New Year.


Miriam Chacko is essentially an environmentalist. After completing her postgraduate degree in Environment and International Development from the University of East Anglia, she got involved in projects promoting environmental awareness. Drawing on her experience, she has written articles on climate change and conservation. 

A keen traveller, she has visited many countries in and around Asia and her love of the outdoors and interest in different cultures comes through in her writing.

Miriam has been writing for The Borneo Post SEEDS since 2013. 

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