Choosing an eco friendly Christmas tree is a great way to make our holidays more sustainable. And it’s not nearly as complicated as you might imagine.
So stress not my friend. I’ve got everything you need to know about getting an eco-friendly Christmas tree, including some awesome DIY Christmas decoration ideas to make your holidays a little lighter on the planet.
What is an eco friendly Christmas tree?
What an eco friendly Christmas tree looks like might vary from person to person, but the main thing to keep in mind is that an eco friendly Christmas tree should come with minimal harm to the environment; from production to disposal.
If you were wondering about an artificial Christmas tree, I am sorry to say that “minimal harm” is very much not the name of the game when it comes to most artificial Christmas trees.
What is an artificial Christmas tree?
While artificial Christmas trees can be very beautiful, they are definitely not more eco-friendly than live trees just because they can be reused many times.
That’s because most of them are made of polyvinyl chloride or PVC, which is not so great for the environment on several fronts.
For starters, the production of PVC is not only inherently linked to the fossil fuel industry, but it also involves several known carcinogens.
PVC Christmas trees also fail when it comes to emissions. At its end of life in a landfill, a 6.5ft artificial tree will result in over twice as many carbon emissions as a similarly sized real tree.
What’s more, most of them cannot be recycled, and their incineration can release carcinogens like dioxins into the air which poses health risks.
Probably best to steer clear of those. If you already have an artificial Christmas tree, try to make the most of it by using it for as long as possible before repurposing it or responsibly disposing of it.
If you are wondering about the biggest difference between an eco friendly Christmas tree and an artificial Christmas tree, it basically comes down to how they are produced and what the options are when it comes time to dispose of them.
That’s the perfect segway into some safer bets when it comes to choosing a sustainable Christmas tree.
Yes! Real trees are most definitely still on the table. Complete with all the pine needles you can sweep! And the lovely scent of fresh pine in your home of course. All you have to do is get the right tree and figure out where/how to properly dispose of it when it comes time for disposal.
The best tree for the job is locally produced, preferably with an FSC certification and minimal pesticide use. This will ensure that your tree is sustainably grown and harvested, and hasn’t travelled too far to get you.
Though most Christmas trees are grown specifically for the Christmas season and do not pose a particular danger to forests, do try and look for the most sustainable and ethically produced tree possible.
Before you get your lovely sustainably sourced spruce, make sure you have a plan for disposing of it when the festivities are over.
Lucky for us real Christmas trees are biodegradable Christmas trees and the best thing to do is to recycle them accordingly. Many local authorities offer a collection service where real trees are collected, shredded and repurposed for landscaping, or composted, so check out what is available near you.
You also have the option of getting a live tree and planting it instead of recycling it when you are finished with it.
Rent a tree
Another great solution is to rent a Christmas tree. The process and cost will depend on the services available near you, and the size of the tree you are looking for.
These services also offer artificial trees which are better than buying your own; though I do not recommend it if it can be avoided.
Get an indoor potted pine
An indoor potted pine tree also makes for a great environmentally friendly Christmas Tree tree. You can keep it year-round and use it as a Christmas tree for the holidays. The easiest to grow is the Norfolk Island pine (Araucaria heterophylla). The only challenge will be keeping it alive throughout the year but I totally have faith in you!
If you do not have a green thumb consider getting crafty and fashioning your own DIY Christmas tree out of clever objects like a ladder or books, or found objects like driftwood. There are lots of great ideas out there and this is a super way to go the extra mile to show your holiday spirit. It really adds a personal touch to your holiday decorations and might also be a fun creative endeavor to take on with your family.
What's the most environmentally friendly Christmas tree?
It’s hard to say what the most environmentally friendly Christmas tree is because it will all depend on your location and the resources you have at your disposal. Moreover, what may be the most environmentally friendly Christmas tree in one location, may not even be feasible in another.
I’d simply recommend carefully considering your options and figuring out how to get a Christmas tree that will pose the least harm to the environment as possible, from start to finish.
How do you make a Christmas tree eco-friendly?
To make a Christmas tree eco-friendly, you have to start by choosing the right tree. That’s why I’ve put together all the great options listed above so check them out and see what works best for you. You also want to make sure to pick out some eco-friendly Christmas decorations as well.
Eco-friendly Christmas decorations:
Another opportunity to get creative, consider making your own DIY decorations; check out some second-hand stores; or invest in sustainable ethically produced decorations.
DIY eco-friendly Christmas tree decorations
Making your own decorations could be a really fun way of lightening your environmental footprint this holiday. Your Home and Garden offer some crafty and tasteful ideas you can draw from. Some of my favorites include garlands made of (oven) dried orange slices or paper decorations fashioned into snowflakes and other festive shapes.
Found objects like pine cones, twigs and flowers work well too, and make for an even more natural take that won’t hurt the planet any more than it has to.
You know we love thrifting here at The Eco Hub and it's no exception here. You can look for beautiful antiques that will make the perfect addition to your tree every year. You might even find some great zero waste gifts while thrifting too!
Shop for eco-friendly Christmas decorations
Nowadays there are also lots of awesome eco-friendly Christmas decorations available for sale. Try your best to find some made out of recycled materials like recycled paper, or other sustainable materials like clay, responsibly sourced wood, or ceramic.
An eco-friendly Christmas tree would not be complete without some eco-friendly or low waste gifts to go with it. You’ll find lots of great options in my Brand Directory, along with other winter and holiday essentials.
Eco-friendly gift wrapping
To wrap your eco-friendly gifts, don’t forget to reach for some eco-friendly gift wrapping ideas as well:
Old books, newspapers, biodegradable gift boxes, and even mason jars also work well for a less wasteful and environmentally straining take on gift wrapping.
If you’d like to (or need to) stick to a more traditional take, you will also find sustainable wrapping paper options. Just make sure it is recyclable and compostable, and pair it with other eco-friendly wrapping tools like compostable twine or biodegradable paper tape.
Don’t forget to be mindful as you are cleaning up. For that you can always look to the 5 R’s (refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle, rot), starting primarily by refusing as much of what will need to wind up at the landfill as possible; which you’ve already done if you’ve followed my tips so far!
You can also recycle cardboard and other untainted paper products left over. Composting (or the rot element of the 5 R’s) is also handy for cardboard and other compostable materials if you already compost at home.
Final thoughts on Eco Friendly Christmas Tress
Whether you’ll be making one of your own, or just making sure yours gets recycled this year, I hope this has shown you that an eco-friendly Christmas tree is within your reach. No stress is necessary. In fact, everything down to your stocking stuffers can be eco-friendly if you so choose but if that’s not possible, just do your best. In the end, what you are able to do will make a difference for us and for the planet.
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