Good Money 26 Nov 2014 christmas, trees

To Tree or not to Tree: The Sustainable Christmas Tree Conundrum

Growing and buying trees can only be a good thing, right? WRONG. 
Whatever way you look at it, the Christmas tree market has a massive footprint. Plastic ones may reappear year on year, but eventually they tend to go to landfill. They are also typically made overseas and shipped to Australia resulting in a lot of carbon miles.
A US study found that consumers would have to keep an artificial Christmas tree for 10 years in order to offset the carbon footprint of natural trees they would have bought during this period.
Go local
The Wollemi pine

The Wollemi pine is so old it is often referred to as a ‘living fossil’. Photo: ideonexus.

A more sustainable option would be to use native alternatives such as Wollemi or Cypress pines. Wollemi pines are one of the rarest and most ancient tree breeds on earth. By buying one from the trust set up to conserve them, you’ll be contributing to the conservation of the tree in the wild. You’ll also have a beautiful live plant that you can bring back into your home year after year.

If you want a more traditional version, swap a cut version for a potted, live Christmas tree. It will need to be repotted every two years and kept properly watered so it won’t dry out, shed foliage or become a fire hazard.
If your green thumb is questionable and you live in Victoria, Eco Christmas Trees will rent you a tree. When the season is over, they’ll take it back and replant it, so it thrives until next season.

A tree that gives backYou might also want to source a tree that gives back to the community. Check out this list of organisations that are selling trees to raise funds for their charity or community group.

The tree (minus a tree) option
Upcycled Christmas tree

This Christmas tree is made entirely from decorations. Photo: GreenMoxie.

If you are creative and up for a challenge, you might want to take a more abstract approach like a recycled pallet tree at the top.
Our friends at 1 Million Women have put together a great guide to upcycled festive trees as part of their No Waste Christmas Campaign. It’s full of great ideas including trees made of ladders and other found objects. All it takes is a bit of imagination and if you are struggling for ideas head to Pinterest for a global pool of inspiration!
Like this post? Check out our four top tips for waste-free Christmas decorating.

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