Sustainable Christmas trees

Out of all the consumerism that this season can represent, we want to help you ease that possible guilt or worry regarding this monumental symbol of the Christmas celebration. We explore four ways to have a Christmas tree in your home.

Welcome to the season of joy, family, nostalgia and, of course, spending. As we all know, Christmas and the holidays in December and January are the time of the year when we spend the most, be it for travel, entertainment and/or gifts. Gifts usually come in plastic packaging, and even if not, we wrap them in paper, put a bow on them and place them under the classic and often obligatory Christmas tree. Nowadays there are already several options of original gifts and in some way or another, more sustainable, natural or ecological. In the same way, instead of just buying a cut tree, using it and then throwing it away, the Christmas tree can become a more sustainable option. 

When I was a little girl I remember going to pick out the Christmas tree with my parents. I loved it when the smell of pine filled the apartment with its Christmas scent. Over time, not only did I learn that Santa doesn't exist, I also learned that the pine we bought ended up in the trash like any other household waste. That's why I loved learning about some alternatives to the typical cut and discarded tree: 

1. Plastic tree

This is a very popular option because instead of using a natural tree, you reuse the same plastic tree year after year. However, the problem with these is the environmental footprint of creating it: one plastic tree can have a footprint of 40 kg CO2 . To make it worthwhile, you have to use it for about 10 years. So, I hope you really liked the one you chose! 

This is still a worrying option as eventually that plastic tree will be thrown away and these trees take approximately 200-300 years to degrade. So, we'd better go with the alternatives below.

2. Natural tree

Buying that delicious smelling tree can be done almost guilt-free when it is treated correctly after we use it. One option is to let it decompose, and if this happens, the carbon footprint is 3.5 kg CO2. If the tree is burned or turned into wood chips for carpentry, its carbon footprint increases significantly to 16 kg CO2, so letting it decompose is a better option. After it dries, it can be used as compost for the garden which is a great option to bring life with the death of that tree.

It is important to consider that when we buy a tree, that it is from a nursery and not from uncontrolled logging in virgin forests. When it is from a nursery we know that the tree was harvested for this purpose and its cutting is controlled. The way to identify a tree that comes from a nursery is definitely not easy, however you can do it by looking at the bottom of the tree to see if there is a label with the name of the authorized distributor and the care it must take. When the logging is in virgin forests there is no control and as long as we keep buying these trees they will continue to be cut down.

3. Natural tree in a pot  

There is also the possibility of using a tree with its roots so that when the Christmas season is over, it can be planted again and continue to grow. In the search to end deforestation, companies have emerged that rent the trees, they will leave them at your house in pots and pick them up in January. This is a great option because the tree will continue to grow and capture carbon from the atmosphere. Here are some companies that offer this dynamic: 

- Kaax Flora Urbana 

- Enverdece

- Reforestalia 

- Navidad responsable

4. Homemade tree

The last option we have for you is the most fun and easy one. You don't always have to buy or rent a tree, you can make one with materials that are already in your home and if you are missing some, any market is your best friend. If you are like me, that crafts are not your thing, this proposal may sound complicated but once you check out some ideas, I hope you find the inspiration to create that alternative Christmas tree.

As you can see there are several options to make your Christmas more sustainable and even more creative. You can make a tree with materials that are in your home, buy a natural one from a nursery and then compost it, buy an artificial one and use it for more than ten years or rent one in a pot to be replanted. The options we like best at Toroto are to make your own tree or rent a potted one. The environmental impact of making a tree from things you already have is minimal, while renting it so that it can continue to grow benefits the tree and the planet. Whatever your Christmas tree, remember that the most important thing is the memories that are created in its presence (and the more environmentally friendly those memories are, the better!).





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