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Best Christmas Tree Choice
December 15, 2009 - 6:13 pm

Hello – What is the most ecological christmas tree choice?

* cut tree from a tree farm, that will be composted after use

* Artificial tree (plastic, of course)

* Living Potted tree (limited to about 3′ tall to reduce weight)

We have been getting cut trees – but I feel like I have read some ecological concerns about this. There is also the cost and tricky set-up with getting a real tree which lead me to want an artificial tree that we would use year after year. Finally, my father got a potted tree, however with the weight of the root ball in dirt, he was really limited to a small tree. He keeps the tree on his deck in the offseason.

What are the most ecological folks doing and why???

BTW – we only have one puney strand of lights – (o; It’s enough, really.


Beth Terry
409 Posts
December 16, 2009 - 10:22 am

I’m going to put this one out to the community because we don’t buy Christmas trees in our home, so I’m not an expert. Will tweet it and see what people come up with.

December 18, 2009 - 6:00 am


There are myriad reasons.

Leave the Toxic Soup in China.

Buy a locally grown tree to reduce related emissions.

Buy an Organic Tree if possible.

Local Trees Support Local Economy.

Real Trees are part of the natural Carbon Cycle.

December 18, 2009 - 5:10 pm

We’ve got a decrepid old artificial tree at home which, while it is getting a little bald and long in the tooth, we smother with so many decorations you can barely see green.

What I really love is the tree we use in my office–we have a well established Norfolk Pine in the entryway, and though the long frond-like branches can make decorating tricky, it always ends up beautifully. This year we’ve got lights wrapped around the trunk stems, and the branches are hung with decorations made enttirely from recycled materials found around the office. Funnest tree yet!

December 18, 2009 - 9:40 pm

I think it really comes down to 1. Disposal method 2. How long you plan on keeping it 3. Preference. Because when it comes right down to it no Christmas tree is 100% eco friendly. That’s not to say that I don’t have one BTW :)

Most people say live is best, but if it’s tossed in a ditch (seen all too often) instead of mulched/chipped/composted, etc. it’s just a big a piece of trash as a paper bag. In some areas of the country (Southern states) live trees have to be shipped in from far away and can be difficult to keep alive even with constant watering (know from experience.) Having a plantable tree may not be an option for renters. As for the fake tree the same trash thing goes for tossing a fake tree in a ditch (although you do have the option of donating the fake tree to a needy family/thrift store if you don’t want it anymore.)

As for fake trees some say it’s best because you can buy it once and keep it forever (some do, some don’t) or donate it if you don’t want it anymore. Some don’t like that the plastic ones are made with PVC, but it shouldn’t hurt you too much as long as you don’t lick your Christmas tree. Of course if you like/want to go the fake route there’s no law that says it has to be a fake plastic tree. There are aluminum trees, wood, cardboard, and metal ornament stand/display hangers. Last year, Apartment Therapy did a huge slide show on fake trees that people created that weren’t of the buy a fake plastic tree variety that was very cool and most were eco-friendly.

In other words, mindfully buy what you like, treat it respectfully during the time that you have it, and dispose of it mindfully at the end of it’s life.

Beth Terry
409 Posts
December 21, 2009 - 8:50 pm

Check out these alternative Christmas tree ideas from Eco Salon:

Trimming an Alternative Tree | EcoSalon

Beth Terry
409 Posts
December 22, 2009 - 6:19 pm
December 23, 2009 - 6:52 pm

A mini Rosemary bush, it smells delicious, can be decorated with handcrafted ornaments and after Xmas, you use the branches for infusions… This is what we did this year because we also have a 1 yo toddler!

Beth Terry
409 Posts
December 24, 2009 - 2:57 am

curlymonkey, I love that idea! Sounds like something even I could handle. And rosemary looks somewhat like pine.

December 28, 2009 - 4:58 pm

Oh, I desperately wanted a rosemary tree, but the folks at WF said that it wasn’t for eating (grown on a conventional farm, in mono-culture, treated with lord-knows-what). I suggested washing, they just shook their heads. But rosemary seeds will turn in to rosemary plants, which are easily trained to rosemary christmas trees, for 1/10th the price, which is what I’m planning on doing this coming year. If you can find organic christmas trees, and if it’s pine, you can make tea from the needles (high in vitamin C). My tree is “used car lot” farmed (I know, I’m already doing better for next year) but I’m still going to take a hacksaw to the main stem and make coasters from the largest sections, ornaments from the smaller sections (I plan on burning in the date and our initials, maybe some one word descriptions of the year, or little pictures of our gifts). The rest, despite the questionable source, will be composted/used for tomato plant supports.

But rosemary mashed potatoes MUST taste better than pine needle tea (I can’t help remembering that pine sap does NOT taste like the maple syrup my grandmother failed to mention only comes from maple trees).

Oh, and I read about this “rent-a-tree” idea online, currently only available in California (not fair! sunshine, produce, AND all the green start ups!), I found the company here: I heard you can even request the same one year after year, so it becomes like a seasonal pet.

Beth Terry
409 Posts
December 30, 2009 - 4:30 am

Does pine sap taste like gin?

Okay, can you please explain about harvesting rosemary seeds? I mean, are you buying the seeds or harvesting them from some rosemary you already have?

December 30, 2009 - 9:58 pm

pine sap tastes like… well, it’s bitter and sour and chemical tasting, like turpentine. Personally I find gin more pleasant tasting, but I also don’t drink so my word on that is questionable :D

For rosemary seeds/cuttings, I was planning on asking on freecycle (seeds or cuttings or whatever will work, haven’t made it that far), looking on craigslist, asking my mother to ask her friends for off season leftovers, and as a last resort, buying new seeds. I have not had my herb garden together enough to have a mature rosemary plant (they’re slow), and my grandmother doesn’t grow rosemary (she ran out of room when she moved a few years ago). Online most pages seems to imply that cuttings are easier than seeds, and for me it’s an indoor plant (it’s Mediterranean, I’m sitting under 2.5″ of ice crusted snow now), but in CA it should be easy, whichever direction you go (indoor, outdoor, seeds, cuttings, etc). Good luck!

December 31, 2009 - 9:39 pm

When I was a kid, I used to chew on pine neddles for fun! I remember perfectly the taste and didn’t know it was a good source of vitamine C. I saw the rosemary bushes at WF but thought they would be organic! Mine is and is still decorated, we will wait a little bit for the infusions. The idea of renting a tree is great too!

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