By Shell Polymers on Dec 11, 2020
With the holiday season just around the corner, our team wanted to take a moment to write a fun article about polyethylene’s role in some of our favorite decorations! So, whether you’re looking at the festive background on a zoom call with loved ones or admiring your city’s outdoor decor, you can see where this critical material is helping make spirits bright.
Artificial Christmas Trees
Have you ever thought about what an artificial Christmas tree is made of? Traditionally, Christmas tree branches are made of flattened strips of polyvinyl chloride (PVC). But injection-molded polyethylene (PE) needles are gaining popularity due to their ability to more effectively mimic the look and feel of pine tree needles1 because of injection-molding capabilities. Branch tips can also be sculpted for a more realistic look.2
In addition to realistic aesthetics, artificial PE trees are a safer alternative. Alicia Voorhies, the co-founder of a green-living informational website explains, “Most plastic trees are made with PVC... which can contain lead as a stabilizer. Plus, they're often treated with chemical flame retardants, which have been linked to a number of health problems. A small number of artificial trees are made with a safer alternative, called polyethylene plastic.”3
It’s also common for artificial tree and wreath storage bags to be made of polyethylene because it’s a waterproof material that protects against dust, bugs, and mildew as decorations wait for the next season.
Christmas tree decor such as traditional bows and some ornaments are also made of polyethylene for similar reasons. Since Christmas decorations are only on display for about a month each year, they need to be durable, protected from outside contaminates, and moisture and chemical resistant while sitting in storage.
While indoor and outdoor holiday-themed decorations can be made of a variety of materials, it’s not uncommon to see polyethylene versions of common holiday icons. For indoor decorations, blow molded holiday decorations started becoming popular in 19304, producing intricate decorations such as candles, snowmen, or the iconic nutcracker5. Good Housekeeping reports that these blow-molded decorations are coming back in winter 2020 as more people are craving that nostalgic design.6 Wall decor such as classic PE wreaths7 are another staple, and can be adorned with other trinkets indicative of the season.
For outdoor decorations, polyethylene is a moisture-resistant material, so any variation designed to be in yards or attached to the outside of a house would benefit from the protection that polyethylene provides. Polyethylene is also resistant to chemicals, so it’s easily cleaned in between seasons without corroding delicate details.
Holiday Gift Bags
Did you know that the average American spent $882.45 on gifts, food, decorations, travel, and other holiday-related expenses in 2019?8 While things may look a little different this holiday season, giving gifts is a core part of many traditions. And with the challenges that this year has brought, gift giving may be even more crucial than years before. According to Cleveland Clinic, giving a gift can help boost your physical and mental health by lowering blood pressure, stress levels, and giving people an overall increased level of happiness and satisfaction.9
So, no matter which holiday tradition you observe, this is a great time of year to give a gift to those you love! Whether it’s something as simple as a treat bag of your favorite rugelach or a giant toy that requires something a little more heavy duty, polyethylene bags are going to be the most popular, and widely-available choice in the grocery store shelves.
If you’re looking to share some holiday cheer with your favorite seasonal treat, food-grade polyethylene bags will be a popular choice. Polyethylene is durable and resistant to moisture, helping to ensure whatever is wrapped inside makes it to its recipient safely.
We hope you all stay safe and healthy this holiday season. Happy holidays from our Shell Polymers family to yours!