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Dreaming of a Green Christmas: The Best Eco-Friendly Christmas Tree Ideas for 2020

Halloween is over so basically it's time to put up the Christmas tree. Who's with us? Jokes aside, this year has been tough. What better way to change our mindset than to submerge ourselves in holiday cheer? We're not judging!  So for those of you who also want to make sure your décor is Santa and nature approved, read on.Colorful string lights shaped like a Christmas tree

Every year in the US, about 95 million homes decorate with Christmas trees. That is 95 million opportunities to make a more positive impact on nature. Here are some ideas for how you can be a part of that.

1. Live Christmas Tree Rentals. Yes - this is a thing. And it's a fantastic idea! Companies like The Potted Christmas Tree CompanyThe Living Christmas Company, and  Rent Xmas Tree make it possible for you to rent a live tree for the season. With the click of a button you can pick the type of tree you want, specify the height, schedule delivery, pay, and voila! A beautiful, living Christmas tree is delivered to your door! At the end of the season you schedule a pick-up date and they’ll take it back and re-plant it for use next year. You can even purchase eco-friendly, fair trade ornaments on some sites!  Companies like this are springing up everywhere…search “living Christmas tree rental” for your area.

2. Buy a Potted Tree. You can also buy potted trees from your local nursery. If you go for this option, make sure the tree actually has roots in the container (sometimes companies cut the trees and stick them in soil which kind of defeats the purpose). You’ll also want to make sure you are prepared to take care of it all year, so ask the nursery employees for an option that can grow outdoors in your climate, or one that can stay indoors all year. Also check for certifications to make sure they are farmed sustainably.

3. Cut Down Your Own. This comes with a few caveats. Instead of going to your closest box store, search for local Christmas Tree farms near you. These smaller farms tend to be much more knowledgeable when it comes to sustainable farming, which is an important strategy that focuses on minimal impact to the environment. Check for a sustainability certification label or ask to the tree farmer about their practices. Added bonus of buying local? As always, supporting local small businesses stimulates the economy of the area you live in, so this is a win for you too. 

To make sure your purchase is as sustainable as possible, you should also have a tree disposal plan. If your town doesn't have its own tree pickup program, see if there is anywhere else you can take it locally to be mulched (or other). If your tree ends up in a landfill, it will break down into methane gas, which is 28-36 times more dangerous than CO2. Here are some other ideas for how to properly recycle a Christmas Tree.

DIY Homemade Christmas Tree made from Wood4. DIY. Maybe not the go-to idea for the die-hard traditionalists, but the budding artist in your family might get a kick out of this task. Thanks to Pinterest, there are thousands of DIY Christmas tree ideas ready and waiting for you to explore them. Used pallets, baubles, tinsel, name it, it can be made into a Christmas tree. They even have some great ideas for trees made from recycled materials! Just take a look. Hopefully you’ll resurface before Christmas.

5. Find a Second Hand Artificial Tree. As always in the eco world, the best strategy is to use what already exists, rather than buying new. You would be surprised how many trees end up in charity shops, so be sure to check out your local thrift store to see if you can give new life to an old tree.

6. Purchase a New Artificial Tree. If none of the above ideas work for you, the final option is to purchase an artificial tree (there are some super realistic ones out there these days!). But as these are made from   plastic, and production of these trees would   result in some hefty emissions, there are   things to consider.

  • Buy a high quality one. Skip the box stores and find one that is going to last a long time without falling apart. The Carbon Trust has estimated you'll need to hang on to an artificial tree for 10 years to make its footprint equal to that of a live tree
  • If you go for a pre-lit version, make sure the bulbs are LED. LED lights use roughly half the energy of traditional lights.
  • Consider storage. In order to keep rockin' around this Christmas Tree for 10 years, you're going to need an effective storage option.
  • If your tree is still in decent condition at the time you choose to get rid of it, donate it to a charity shop or local non-profit organization to spread more joy!

In the future, we predict there will be even more artificial options made from even more sustainable materials, like plastic bottles collection from the ocean. One can dream!

Which tree will you choose?

- Love the Earth Co.

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