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5 ½ Sustainable Christmas tree alternatives

How to make your Christmas tree environmentally friendly

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Is there such a thing as a sustainable Christmas tree? Are artificial trees bad news? Are real Christmas trees the solution? Or do you have to build your own tree instead?

Here you will find everything you ever wanted to know about sustainable Christmas tree alternatives.

It’s already December! Organize your sustainable Christmas tree, start decorating and get into the festive spirit. You can start planning presents, open the eggnog, get going… right? Not sure what exactly “sustainable Christmas tree” means?

Perfect! You’ve come to the right place! We’ll tell you all about the 5 most eco-friendly Christmas tree options, ranked from top to bottom, from the top to the mistletoe.

But first, some quick facts about Christmas trees – and why an alternative solution might be a good idea.

Christmas tree facts

The world’s first Christmas tree

The very first documented use of a tree at Christmas took place in 1510 in the market square of Riga, the capital of Latvia.

So the tradition is a little over 500 years old!

Germans in particular quickly became great supporters of the Christmas tree tradition and spread it all over the world.

And guess what: according to statistics, Germany is still the world leader when it comes to Christmas trees.

How many Christmas trees are felled every year?

Have you ever wondered how many Christmas trees are cut down every year?

The figures are surprising…

You read that right: around 120 million Christmas trees are felled worldwide every year.

Considering that an average Christmas tree takes around 7-8 years to grow, this means that there are currently around 1 billion future Christmas trees growing somewhere on this planet!

That’s a lot of land that is used for our Christmas tree production.

And it’s not all bad news: Budding Christmas trees naturally also convert carbon into oxygen. And the cultivation of these trees creates many, many jobs.

On the other hand, tree farms are not exactly the preferred habitat for animals. Besides, all these trees only grow to be felled one day.

That’s why it’s great that there are so many sustainable alternatives to the traditional Christmas tree. But before we start, two more tree facts for you.

What are the most common tree species for Christmas trees?

Firs are by far the most common type of Christmas tree, followed by pines and spruces.

On average, pines take about 5 years to grow, spruces 7 and firs 10 years.

However, some trees only need around 4 years, others up to 15 years, to become the Christmas tree we all dream of.

1 Fun fact about Christmas trees

If you want to impress your friends with fun Christmas tree knowledge: tell them that a two-meter specimen has around 200,000 needles.

Luckily, daisies were chosen to find out whether our crush loves us or not… and not Christmas trees… 😉

The 5 ½ smartest sustainable Christmas tree alternatives

If all the facts and statistics have convinced you that traditional Christmas trees might not be the only way to celebrate Christmas, here are the 5 ½ smartest sustainable Christmas tree alternatives.

(Note: If you have any other ideas for alternative Christmas tree options, please let us know! We’re always happy to add to the list).

1st Christmas Trees Are Stayin’ Alive, Stayin’ Alive

This is by far your most sustainable Christmas tree option – simply choose a living Christmas tree to call your own. And one that would also make the Bee Gees proud.

Choose a tree in your street or a tree in the surrounding woods and make it your own family Christmas tree this year.

Everyone can contribute (including your neighbors, of course), and it’s a peaceful way to bring your family together by adding some cool decorations to your own specially chosen live tree.

Pick up some (eco-friendly) ornaments and add some style to your tree during the festive season (but only if you promise to take them down properly after Christmas!).

First step towards realizing sustainable Christmas tree alternative no. 1: Take a walk through your street or through a nearby forest and look for suitable trees. Then think of a cool name for your Christmas tree so that it becomes a permanent part of your family.

2. enjoy your community Christmas tree

No forest with Christmas tree potential nearby? Not even in your street? Don’t worry. Another eco-friendly Christmas tree option is that of your local community.

Let’s face it, your local Christmas tree is probably pretty big and very impressive. A lot of money has already been spent on decorations, and there may even be a Christmas market nearby.

Enjoy the view of the beautiful Christmas tree, drink a cup or two of mulled wine and look out for a sleigh in the sky. Can you see Santa’s presents? If you can actually do that, then you’ve probably had too much wine…

First step towards realizing the sustainable Christmas tree alternative #2: Invite your loved ones and take a look at the Christmas tree in your community.

3. why not rent a Christmas tree?

We have a few Christmas tree alternatives for you. Next on the sustainable Christmas tree list: Give a tree a home this festive season.

Sometimes Christmas trees are just for Christmas. Choose your favorite, give it all the love and care it needs for 4-5 weeks, and then give it back!

Renting a Christmas tree for the festive season is a super-sustainable option, and you can still enjoy having a real Christmas tree in your home.

Give the tree back, watch it being replanted and come back next year to find out more.

The best of both worlds for you and for Mother Earth.

First step to realizing the sustainable Christmas tree alternative no. 3: Use Google (or better WWF Panda Search) and search for “rent a Christmas tree in [deiner Umgebung]”.

(If there are absolutely no results, present the idea to a nearby startup hub. It’s big business – and an idea that is growing strongly year on year.

4. #DIY: Build your Christmas tree

One of the latest social media trends is to make your own Christmas tree using items and materials you already have around the house. We are big fans! And it’s amazing to see how creative we can all be (or how creative lockdown has made us…)

You can build a sustainable Christmas tree with basics like cardboard. But what about egg cartons? Ladders? Tripods? Books? You can recycle and reuse everything!

It’s a super fun and unique way to build your own Christmas tree – especially with the little ones. (“But mom, I’m only 34…”)

First step to realizing sustainable Christmas tree alternative #4: Check out #diychristmastree for inspiration and start collecting materials around the house.

5. an artificial Christmas tree

Good things come to those who debate! Even today, there are still many discussions and debates about what is the more sustainable Christmas tree option – a real tree? Or an artificial tree?

The truth is that it is very difficult to explain. Various studies suggest that you need to use an artificial Christmas tree between 4-20 years to make it more environmentally friendly than a classic Christmas tree – that’s how much the figures vary.

Comparing the carbon footprint of an artificial tree with that of a real tree is complicated.

A study on the subject by PE Americas is over 100 pages long – so you know how complex the subject is.

But in short, artificial trees are not necessarily the most sustainable option – which is why the artificial Christmas tree is only the 5th listed eco-friendly alternative.

However, if you choose one, make sure it will last for decades. Try to buy one that has been ethically produced too.

First step to realizing sustainable Christmas tree alternative no. 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 normal Christmas trees?

If none of these cool sustainable Christmas tree alternatives are an option for you, you can of course still have your normal Christmas tree. But please buy from a responsible farm and ask them about their reforestation projects.

This is the least sustainable option as it unfortunately ends the life of the tree.

Yes, we hear you. You are only ending the life of a tree. But multiply this 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 offset this by – you guessed it – planting a tree with Click A Tree!

Since you have your own tree in your living room, why not plant one somewhere in the world to replace it? Or even better – three?

Christmas is also a pretty big deal in Ghana. And when you plant a tree there, you help to finance a local entrepreneurship school where young people are trained for another year. How great is that for a Christmas present?

First step towards realizing the sustainable Christmas tree alternative #5 ½: Plant a tree in Ghana now.

We wish you a wonderful Christmas from the whole Click A Tree team

Whatever you decide to do this year (and whatever is on your Christmas list), plant a real tree. Your tree makes an amazing difference around the world and Christmas is the best time to spread the festive spirit worldwide.

Trees make a great eco-friendly gift – just like these 20 sustainable gifts we’ve put together for you.

Tag us on Instagram when you post your Christmas tree and follow us on Facebook and be part of our conversations about eco-friendly Christmas trees.

Take care of yourself and have a phenomenal holiday season! From the Click A Tree team.


¹ Sources for the Christmas tree stats: , , and