Over the years, many have argued that plastic/artificial Christmas trees are more “environmentally friendly” because they preserve the life of a real tree. That’s simply not true. Producing these massive amounts of plastic that will usually only last one or two years is much more environmentally costly than chopping down a sustainably farmed, carbon-inhaling tree every year.
Why? Because plastic trees will never break down in our lifetime, or even in our grandchildren’s. So the 14.7 million fake trees sold in 2013 are going to be sitting around in landfills for thousands of years.
Additionally, artificial Christmas trees are not regulated and studies have found that they can contain dangerous levels of arsenic and lead. (Source)
Did you ever have a fake Christmas tree? Growing up, my family had several. Where are they now? I have no idea. They never made it more than a year, then they were replaced, usually because they got dusty or weren’t put away nicely and got damaged, wet, or mildew-y.
REAL Christmas trees, on the other hand, are farmed specifically for this purpose. We aren’t invading the north pole each year and destroying their forests like we do in South America.
No, the harm isn’t necessarily in cutting these trees down, it’s in how we dispose of them.
Every year, the U.S. buys over 50 million Christmas trees, and according to Inhabitat.com, over 30 million dried up old Christmas trees flood municipal landfills come January.
This is not okay!
If you don’t have the ability to compost or sustainability dispose of these trees (info on how and where to compost at the end of this page), please consider one of the many alternatives listed below. But don’t stop there, Pinterest has tons of Christmas tree alternatives that are pocket friendly as well as eco-friendly!
Click hereto see our 2019 list.
Here are some fun and eco-friendly alternatives to traditional live or plastic Christmas trees. Be creative! Conventionality is tiresome and historically wasteful!
The Potted Tree
Buy a living Christmas tree and replant after the holidays. You get the benefits of the lovely pine smell, but also you know you didn’t have to kill a tree, that potentially won’t get composted and end up in a landfill. This can be replanted and enjoyed forever. Ask your local nursery which trees grow best in your environment. Here’s some tips on how to care for your potted Christmas tree.
Check out how this family has kept their Christmas tree alive for over 3 decades!!!
The Tree Frame
Ikea is hit and miss with waste, some items are package free, others are over-packaged. This is a pretty interesting idea that would be pretty easy to make at home if you can’t find any free of plastic packaging.
The Ladder Tree
No bad luck goes to any presents under THIS tree. If you have an old ladder, put it to good use with this creative design by Casay Diseno. And thrift stores are full of second hand Christmas ornaments! Alternatively, check craigslist or ebay for to buy some used ornaments and avoid purchasing new materials.
The Book Tree
Book trees have become increasingly popular in the last few years, and you can see why! They are beautiful, classy and though they don’t have that fresh pine smell, they DO have that awesome, old book smell.
The Chalkboard Tree
Casay Diseno impresses us again with this creative and interactive chalkboard tree, which appears to be pretty entertaining!
The Tree Shelf
This interesting tree shape within a book shelf gets a A+ for creativity. Using green items you already have, you can style a tree shaped creation that is sure to get compliments over the holidays.
The Branch Tree
If you’re lucky enough to have some pine trees around, or know someone who does, gather a few fallen branches to style a tree-shaped creation that still has that lovely pine smell. This isn’t exactly “take only photos, leave only footprints” but if it’s your yard, I think it’s okay.
The Scandinavian Tree
This tree design is a beautiful and simple way to add some holiday elegance to your room without the need for plastic or live trees. For full instructions on how to build this, check out the wonderful designs at danslelakehouse.com
The Coat Stand Tree
Here’s a beautiful tree style that never dries out, dies, or needs dusting. It looks a lot classier than fake plastic trees, and has a beautiful and simplistic minimal feel to it. Another A+ in our book.
The Lattice Tree, and other alternatives
Lowes.com has a pretty rad list of Christmas tree alternatives, as well as step-by-step guides on how to build them yourself. I think my favorite in this group is the lattice tree! What’s yours?
And check out our new:
2019 List of Christmas Tree Alternatives!
Still want to go au naturel?
Well, please consider composting when January comes around. Here are some other alternatives to throwing your tree away to go to landfill:
4 ways to recycle your Christmas tree
If you’re in the bay area of California:
here are some resources for composting your tree:
Where to Recycle or Compost Your Christmas Tree in the Bay Area
Image Source: https://www.thespruce.com
What about lights? According to care2.org, old lights are nothing but energy wasters. “Send those old school Christmas lights to the recycling center, and go with efficient LED lights. You can also save energy by using fewer lights and unplugging when you’re not enjoying them” (Care2.org).
Here’s a great resource on How to Recycle Christmas lights
These are all very cute ideas. I’m not sure why people would dispose of fake plastic trees after only 1 year though. I grew up with fake trees and now at the age of 30 my parents have only ever owned 2. I left home and have had the same one for 6 years. It could probably last in my home for at least another 5 or 6 years before I would consider getting rid of it. So anyone out there who already has one, store it properly and don’t replace it until you get good use out of it!