Is there such a thing as a sustainable Christmas tree? Are artificial trees bad news? Are actual Christmas trees the solution? Or do you have to build your own tree instead?
Here’s everything you always wanted to know about sustainable Christmas tree alternatives.
- 1 Christmas Tree Facts
- 2 The 5 ½ Smartest Sustainable Christmas Tree Alternatives
- 3 1. Christmas Trees Are Stayin’ Alive, Stayin’ Alive
- 4 2. Enjoy Your Community Christmas Tree
- 5 3. Why Not Rent A Tree?
- 6 4. #DIY Your Christmas Tree
- 7 5. An Artificial Christmas Tree
- 8 5 ½. But What About Completely Normal Christmas Trees?
- 9 Trees for Entreepreneurs: Ghana
- 10 Have A Treemendous Christmas From Click A Tree
- 11 Sources
It’s December already! Organize your sustainable Christmas tree, start decorating, and get yourself in the festive mood. You can start planning presents, open up the eggnog, start… huh? Unsure what exactly “sustainable Christmas tree” entails?
Perfect! You’re in the right place! We’re going to tell you all about the 5 most eco-friendly Christmas tree options ranked from top to bottom, from head to mistletoe.
But first, some quick facts about Christmas Trees – and why an alternative solution could be a good idea.
Christmas Tree Facts
The world’s first Christmas tree
The very first documented use of a tree at Christmas was in the town square of Riga, the capital of Latvia, in the year 1510.
Hence the tradition is just over 500 years old!
Especially Germans quickly became massive supporters of the Christmas tree tradition and spread it all across the globe.
And guess what? The stats state that Germany are still world leaders when it comes to having Christmas trees.
How many Christmas trees are cut down every year?
Did you ever wonder how many Christmas trees are being cut down every year?
The numbers are surprising…
You’re reading that right: Globally, around 120 million Christmas trees are cut down – every single year.
Taking into account that an average Christmas tree takes around 7-8 years to grow, that means around 1 billion future Christmas trees are currently growing somewhere on this planet!
That’s a whole lot of land being used for our Christmas tree production.
And that’s not all bad news: Budding Christmas trees of course do turn carbon into oxygen as well. And growing those trees creates lots and lots of jobs.
However, on the downside, tree farms aren’t exactly the preferred habitat for animals. Plus, unfortunately, all these trees only grow to be cut down one day.
Hence it’s great that there are so many sustainable alternatives for the traditional Christmas tree. But before we begin, two more tree facts for you.
What are the most common tree species for Christmas trees?
Firs are by far the most common Christmas tree species, followed by pines and spruces.
As we just talked about the time it takes to grow such a Christmas tree: On average, pines take about 5 years to grow, spruces 7 and firs 10 years.
However, some trees only need about 4 years, others up to 15 years to become the Christmas tree we all dream of.
1 Fun Fact about Christmas Trees
In case you’d like to impress your friends with some fun Christmas tree knowledge: Tell them that a two-meter-tall specimen has roughly 200,000 needles.
Lucky us they chose daisies to find out whether our crush loves us or not… and not Christmas trees… 😉
The 5 ½ Smartest Sustainable Christmas Tree Alternatives
Should all the facts and stats have convinced you that traditional Christmas trees might not be the one and only solution to celebrate Christmas, here are the 5 ½ smartest sustainable Christmas tree alternatives.
(Note: Should you have further ideas for alternative Christmas tree options – don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. We’re always happy to keep the list growing.)
1. Christmas Trees Are Stayin’ Alive, Stayin’ Alive
This is by far your most sustainable Christmas tree option – simply selecting a live Christmas tree to call your own. And one that would make the Bee Gees proud too.
Choose a tree on your street, or a tree in local woodlands and elect it as your own family Christmas tree this year.
Everybody can contribute (including your neighbors, of course), and it’s a peaceful way to bring your family together, adding some cool decorations to your very own, specially-selected live tree.
Take some (eco-friendly) ornaments along and give your tree some style over the festive period (but only if you promise to remove them properly after Christmas is over!)
First step to realize Sustainable Christmas tree alternative #1: take a stroll along your street or through a nearby forest and look for suitable trees. Then think up a cool name for your Christmas tree. “Let’s visit Streeve.” sounds awesome and makes Streeve immediately part of your family.
2. Enjoy Your Community Christmas Tree
No Christmas tree woodlands nearby? Not even any on your street? Not to worry. Another eco-friendly Christmas tree option is your local community one.
Let’s be honest, your local Christmas tree is probably rather large and very impressive. A lot of money has already been spent on the decorations, and there might even be a Christmas market to enjoy nearby as well.
Sip back some mulled wine, and keep a watchful eye for a sleigh in the sky. Can you feel Santa’s presents? On second thought, maybe you’ve had enough of the wine…
First step to realize Sustainable Christmas tree alternative #2: check out your local community Christmas tree.
3. Why Not Rent A Tree?
We’ve still got a few more Christmas tree alternatives for you. Next up in the sustainable Christmas tree list: Give a tree a home this festive period.
Sometimes, Christmas trees are only for Christmas. Pick your favorite, give it all the love and care it needs for 4-5 weeks, then give it back!
Renting a Christmas tree for the festive period is a super-sustainable option, and you still get to enjoy having a real tree inside your home.
Give the tree back, watch it get re-planted, and then come back next year for more.
The best of both worlds for you and for Mother Earth.
First step to realize Sustainable Christmas tree alternative #3: use Google (or, even better, WWF Panda Search) to search “rent a Christmas tree in [your area]”.
(Should there be absolutely zero results, pitch the idea to a nearby startup hub. It’s big business – and an idea that grows heavily year-on-year.
Related Articles: CSI: ClickA Tree – The Mysterious Case of the Christmas Climate Change
4. #DIY Your Christmas Tree
One of the latest social media trends is to DIY your own Christmas tree with items and materials you already have around the house. We’re a big fan! And it’s amazing to see how creative we can all be (or just how crazy lockdown has made us become…)
You can build a sustainable Christmas tree with the basics, like cardboard. But what about egg cartons? Ladders? Tripods? Books? You can recycle and reuse anything!
It’s a super fun and unique way to build your own Christmas tree – especially with little ones. (“But mommmm, I’m only 34…”)
First step to realize Sustainable Christmas tree alternative #4: check out #diychristmastree for some inspiration and start gathering materials around the house.
5. An Artificial Christmas Tree
Good things come to those who debate! Even today, there’s still lots of debate and discussion about what’s the more sustainable Christmas tree option – a real tree? Or an artificial tree?
The truth is that it’s very difficult to clarify. Different studies suggest one needs to use an artificial Christmas tree between 4-20 years to make it more eco-friendly than a classic Christmas tree – that’s how much the numbers vary.
Comparing the carbon footprint of an artificial tree to the footprint of a real tree is complicated.
A study on the topic by PE Americas comprises over 100 pages – just so you know how complex the topic is.
But in short: It’s fair to say that artificial trees aren’t the most sustainable option – that’s why the artificial Christmas tree is only the 5th listed eco-friendly alternative.
But if you’re using one, make sure that it lasts for decades. Try to buy one that’s ethically produced too. That way it’s a special kind of chemis-tree.
First step to realize Sustainable Christmas tree alternative #5: check the carbon footprint of your artificial tree, and commit to using it for many years to come.
Related Articles: Looking for an adventure this winter? Check out these 10 eco-friendly and fun winter activities.
5 ½. But What About Completely Normal Christmas Trees?
If none of these cool sustainable Christmas trees alternatives is for you, you can of course still have your normal Christmas tree as well. But please, buy from a responsible farm, and make sure to ask about their reforestation projects.
It’s the least sustainable option since, unfortunately, it ends the tree’s life.
Yes, we hear you. You’re only ending the life of one tree. But multiply that one tree by 120 million households worldwide that think the same way.
Christmas cuts down entire forests – one tree at a time.
But you can at least partially make up for that by – you guessed it – planting a tree with Click A Tree!
Since you’ve got your very own tree in your living room, why not plant one somewhere in the world to replace it? Or better yet – plant three?
Christmas is a pretty big deal in Ghana too. And when you plant a tree there, it helps fund a local entrepreneurship school, where young people are educated for another year. How great is that for a Christmas gift?
First step to realize Sustainable Christmas tree alternative #5 ½: Plant a tree in Ghana right now.
Trees for Entreepreneurs: Ghana
Plant trees to help entrepreneurs build a better future for themselves.
Have A Treemendous Christmas From Click A Tree
Whatever you decide to do this year (and whatever’s on your Christmas list), plant a real tree. Your tree makes an amazing difference around the world and Christmas is the best time to help spread the festive cheer globally.
Trees make for an awesome eco-friendly gift – just like 14 of the other sustainable gifts we put together for you here.
Take care, and have a phenomenal festive period! From the Click A Tree team.
¹ Sources for the Christmas tree stats: https://de.statista.com/statistik/daten/studie/372294/umfrage/absatz-von-weihnachtsbaeumen-in-deutschland/ , https://www.statista.com/statistics/209249/purchase-figures-for-real-and-fake-christmas-trees-in-the-us/ , https://www.bctga.co.uk/ and https://www.thetatva.in/world/120-million-trees-are-cut-down-every-christmas-across-the-world/