Thinking of chopping down trees for Christmas? Here are our top sustainable Christmas tree ideas for you to consider as alternatives.
Sustainable Christmas tree ideas
Think laterally about your Christmas tree this year, but only if you need to replace it. There are multiple different ways to source an eco-friendly Christmas tree, including renting, recycling and growing your own. Alternatively, think about a material that is a bit more environmentally friendly like coconut or bamboo.
If you already have a plastic tree in the attic, get it out and dust it off. Reusing the tree for multiple years will in some way offset the original production of petroleum based plastic and the carbon emissions from transportation.
If it is time to trade in your plastic Christmas tree, donate it to keep it in the circular economy. Parts of it might be recyclable at your municipality, for example the New York City Department of Sanitation allows the stand and trunk to be recycled alongside metal, glass, plastic and cartons.
Alternatives to Christmas trees
Alternative materials for a Christmas tree abound. I even saw a Christmas tree made out of books once, in a social media post around the Jolabokaflod which is the tradition of giving books on Christmas eve in Iceland. Another brilliant idea is to paint a tree on your wall, using non-toxic and VOC paints, of course. Fabric, felt, baubles, paper and pompoms can all make tree shapes.
A simple branch with sparkly lights can make a great Christmas tree, depending on your scheme. Sparkly lights make anything magical. Of course, lights encased in plastic are not very environmentally friendly and the energy they use can be wasteful too. Choose LED lights that use less electricity and switch them off when out of use or put them on a timer. Also, use them for multiple years instead of throwing them out each year.
If you are not the crafty sort, or you just don’t have the time to make a Christmas tree this year, one idea is a wooden tree. Wooden trees can look modern and – bonus – don’t shed any needles. Etsy is full of wood Christmas trees made by crafty people in their workshops that you can buy.
XMAS3 is a wooden dowel rod flat pack tree with lights. There are two versions, one is 1.9 meters high and the other is 1.25 meters. And talking about flat pack trees, Honesty makes a metal 3ft Christmas tree that is foldable. It’s available from Sears and Amazon. Mekong Quilts make a Christmas tree from bamboo that is available in 130cm and 170cm sizes. We always like to support rural employment but these will need to be shipped from Vietnam.
Is a real Christmas tree sustainable?
A real Christmas tree can be sustainable. I am lucky enough to live down the road from a Christmas tree farm. The farmer has planted steep hills with Christmas trees and every year we can go along and walk up and down the rows to choose our tree. It reminds me of years back when we had a smallholding and could cut our own trees each Christmas.
The trees are numerous, so each year only a very small percentage of them are cut down and the farmer can circulate them. He also grazes his livestock between them the rest of the year. And he offers a take back service so when the festive season is over, you can take the tree back for recycling into firewood or composting.
I realize that not everyone is this lucky. But there are still options. In Oregon, the Original Potted Christmas Tree Company will deliver, set up and collect a 7 foot Christmas tree for you. The collected tree is planted out to grow old in nature. Unfortunately, the service is only available in Eugene and Portland. If you are further afield, they have a guide for how to pot and grow your own Christmas tree.
Rent a real Christmas tree
Rent Xmas Tree provides a similar service in the South San Francisco Bay Area, Santa Cruz, Monterey Peninsula, and Salinas regions. They have California Redwood, Deodar Cedar, Douglas and Nordmann Fir trees to choose from. The trees go back to the nursery once the holiday season is over.
Love A Christmas Tree in Leicestershire in the UK delivers trees to your home or office. The trees can then be returned or a collection booked after Christmas is over. Rental Christmas Trees allow you to name and request the same Christmas tree year after year, while they nurture it in between. You can collect from their store in Stroud, Gloucestershire or request delivery.
If you are anything like me, and you can’t keep a green plant alive for long, renting a tree is a great option. But if you have green fingers and love to look after plants, a potted Christmas tree or grow-your-own tree (if you have space), would be the best. There will be no carbon footprint from transporting a tree.
Will you opt for a sustainable Christmas tree?
Will you opt for a sustainable Christmas tree this year? Which option will you buy? A wooden flat pack tree suits modern living in lots of ways, and they are easily available.
If your heart is yearning for a real green tree and a traditional family Christmas, it is possible to have a real tree and still have a sustainable home. Renting or buying a potted Christmas tree or growing your own tree are all good choices.
Making your own tree out of alternative and sustainable materials can be great fun. It could be the beginning of a new tradition for your family while you build a more sustainable home.