Eco-Friendly Christmas Tree Alternatives

When it comes to the holidays, which are rife with pollution and waste, there are plenty of ways to green up the works, from making homemade gifts and utilizing recycled wrapping paper to going paperless by sending holiday e-cards. As for the tree, there are tons of options to keep your holiday eco-friendly.

More and more people are looking for ways to greenify in every aspect of their lives. For some that starts with recycling and driving a fuel-efficient vehicle. Others will go so far as to install solar panels or wind turbines in order to cut their carbon footprint through energy conservation. You might even use a cistern to collect rainwater for your lawn instead of wasting drinkable water. These are all pretty major changes that could have a positive impact on the environment. But the little things can add up, as well. And

The conundrum for most people centers on the ages-old debate between cut trees and artificial ones made of metal or plastic. Cut trees are not inherently harmful to the environment, but many people take umbrage at the wastefulness of growing trees just to cut them down for a few weeks of decoration before throwing them away. And while trees are definitely biodegradable, the amount of pollution created in the shipping process (bringing them to tree lots and carting them away to the landfill) is environmentally prohibitive. Fake trees, on the other hand, could be even worse. Many are made with non-biodegradable elements such as PVC. And it is estimated that you would have to keep one for a minimum of twenty years to make it a less harmful options than cutting down live trees. So what’s a greenie to do? How can you preserve this festive holiday tradition without creating a massive carbon debt in the process?

In truth, there is one truly amazing option that surprisingly few people consider, and that is using a living tree. For many people, the fresh scent of pine is part of the joy of having a cut tree in the home, so why not enjoy it sans the saw? Potted Christmas trees have become all the rage in the green community because these hardy plants can live outdoors for most of the year but come inside to grace your home during the holidays. You’ll have to tend to your tree year-round, of course. And if you want it to keep growing you’ll need to transplant it to larger pots periodically. But the upside is that you have a beautiful, oxygen-producing piece of seasonal décor with literally no carbon footprint attached. And it will last year after year like an artificial tree but with all the benefits of a natural plant.

There is, however, one thing you should be aware of when it comes to moving a tree from outside to inside and vice versa. If you live in a cold climate your tree will start to grow when you move it to the warmer indoors. And when you take it back out again you may notice some browning and dead limbs. Do not assume you have killed your tree! You’ve just confused its growth cycle with the temperature change. Give it some time and it will likely bounce back. There are all kinds of important steps you can take when it comes to living a greener life, from driving an electric car to using solar power rebates. But the little things add up, too, so resolve to make your holiday season eco-friendly this year with a greener approach to your Christmas tree.

About the Author

Leon Harris is a freelance writer based in Camarillo, California. A lover of both words and coffee, he can regularly be found either reading or writing at his local coffee shop. If not at the coffee shop, he is usually at UC Santa Barbara, where he attends college part-time.