From Soil to City

Sustainable Christmas Tree Options

As the holidays approach, with good cheer and presents galore, some of us might feel a little guilty about the amount of waste that we produce during this festive season. Between the extra packaging, gift wrap, cards and maybe even extra food waste we create during the holidays, you might be looking for ways to reduce your own footprint on our planet and have a more sustainable holiday celebration. One simple and easy way to get more sustainable during the holidays is to revisit the annual tradition of buying a freshly cut Christmas tree every year. Though they look and smell like the holidays, Christmas trees create a strain on our Earth since about 30 million Christmas trees are harvested annually and later thrown out. Luckily, many people are increasingly finding other creative alternatives to celebrate the holidays in a more sustainable way. Here are five of our favorites, including some DIY projects, that will help ring in the holidays with some environmental goodness!

  1. The Classic Artificial Tree – Thanks to an increasing awareness of sustainable environmental practices and the rising cost of real Christmas trees, many people are already switching over to this classic sustainable practice. Not only will a tree last you decades but will be saving the environment the effects of having a tree planted, watered and transported into the city during that time! A unique option such as this one gives your home a unique wintery feel while saving some space in your home as well! 
  2. Potted Plant – If you rather have something that is a little more natural, many people are substituting their Christmas trees with potted plants and trees (especially the ones that they may already have at home).  Take any sturdy plant and hang some ornaments and lights and make it the centerpiece of your holiday space! These plants, if taken care of properly, can last years and bring some green into your home all year round. If you are in need of a plant and are not sure which to pick, take a walk through the Flower District in Manhattan (on West 28th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues) and pick up your new holiday tradition there. Silver Lavender or Rosemary Bushes are good options if you want to fill your home with wonderful scents and can be found at your local nursery. You can also pick up a weeping fig tree if you want some more height or a cactus if you want a fun, festive and warmer approach to a holiday centerpiece.
  3. Wooden/Cardboard Tree – For me, one of the most beautiful parts of the season is enjoying the snowy landscapes and bare trees branches all over the city this time of year. Some people are matching this aesthetic and getting trees that look like the ones we see covered in snow during winter. This tree from West Elm is a perfect example of that! There are even a few DIY project options for those who want to create their own. If you are looking for something a bit different, this cardboard tree from Etsy is also a great and beautiful alternative in this category!
  4. Ladder Tree – If you have a ladder already taking up space in your home, why not make another use for it? This instructable is an example of the increasingly popular trend of people using their ladders to create a Christmas tree experience in their homes during the holidays. The shape and size of a ladder helps give us a similar shape to a tree and the steps help us create some spaces to hang ornaments. Add lights and some garland and you might forget that you replaced your tree with an equally festive ladder.
  5. Christmas Tree Print – My last idea for a sustainable and alternative christmas tree idea is another DIY project but helps gives us a better picture of a tree. Using an image you like of a tree and your local printing store, you can create a hangable print (like this tutorial shows) that can be used instead of an actual tree, and adds the extra benefit of saving space.

    Article contributed by Local Roots Site Leader + Teacher, Stephen Silva
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