By: Rachel O'Reilly
Christmas tree, o Christmas tree, why are you not eco-friendly?
Yes, it’s true, each year millions of trees are cut down so we can have our sparkling holiday mascots proudly displayed in our homes to enjoy during the most wonderful time of the year. But, if we really think about it, does it make sense to have that tree grow for years, release emissions when it’s cut, degrade the land, and fill our overflowing landfills all for a precious few weeks of glory?!
We don’t want to bash all traditional Christmas trees though. For instance, according to the Wilderness Society, some Christmas tree farms can help “mitigate climate change, especially as the soil absorbs around 10 times as much carbon as the actual wood.” These tree farms can also provide habitat for wildlife during their “eight-to-ten-year growth span.”
While traditional trees are a less sustainable option of all the choices out there, artificial trees are REALLY unsustainable and can be hazardous to your health... According to The Epoch Times, they’re made from “petrochemicals, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), metals, and sometimes even lead” AND they can’t be recycled — now that doesn’t bring joy to the world, or the health of your family and home.
You can buy more “eco” varieties by opting for organically-grown trees or selecting one from a local harvester, but these trees still find their way to the ends of countless driveways and into our landfills. So, while better than picking your tree up from the supermarket down the street, there are still better options out there.
I absolutely LOVE the holidays and the smell of a fresh tree in the house (and despise January because it means the holidays are over), so it’s been hard for me to think about doing it any other way! Thankfully, I found that you don’t have to sacrifice the tradition of the tree - Rejoice! Each of the five options is “eco” in some fashion, in that they all help to reduce, reuse and recycle. So, go ahead and explore — your earth-friendly Christmas tree awaits!
1. Purchase a potted Christmas tree
This is a great option for those of us who still want a traditional tree in the house, pine needle scents and all. The easiest way to find one is usually by contacting your local garden center or nursery (ideally, 4-6 weeks before you want to pick-up your tree) to see what they have. This way, once the Christmas season comes to a close, you can have a new post-holiday tradition planting your precious tree outdoors, allowing it to reestablish its roots, and grow once more. Nowhere to plant it? No worries! Often your local school, community center, or park would be stoked over a tree donation. If that’s not an option, the nursery where you bought it from will, in most cases, take it off your hands and find someone who would love to plant it. Bonus: Planting trees helps remove excess carbon dioxide from the air, so the more, the merrier!
2. Adopt a Christmas tree
Yes, you can indeed “adopt” or rent a Christmas tree. This option also allows you to have the live tree-feel and fresh, tree scent in your home. Check with your local tree providers to see if they offer this option, and if not, here are some “adopt-a-Christmas-tree” programs available:
Living Christmas is based in California with delivery throughout the state.
Adopt a Christmas Tree is also based in California with delivery throughout the U.S.!
Fresh Christmas Tree is based in West Virginia and they ship all over the U.S. too!
3. Decorate a tree outdoors
This is probably the simplest way to “get” a tree. All you need to do is step outside of your house, pick a tree on your property or in your neighborhood and go all-out with decorations. You’ll definitely have one of the most unique trees on your block, and you’ll get to bond with your family, friends, and maybe even neighbors over your new, fun tradition. However, be sure to check that your ornaments and other Christmas tree décor are environment and animal-safe. One way to ensure this is to purchase (or make - we love this pinecone example and this citrus and cinnamon one) biodegradable décor, or craft homemade “treat” ornaments for wild backyard critters — that way everyone is happy during the holiday season.
4. Opt for a tree-free Christmas “tree”
Tree-free Christmas options are great if you want a slightly different look to your holiday tree. These aren’t the PVC-riddled ones you see stuffed inside department stores, but the eco-friendly varieties. Here are some fun and festive “trees”:
100 percent natural recycled Cardboard Christmas Trees
One Two Tree: Untreated and high-grade Australian hoop pine plywood
PossibiliTree: Waste-free, natural wood