Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree… when disposable beats reusable

It’s that time of year again when we all start talking about Christmas. Christmas plans, Christmas wishes, Christmas time off from work, Christmas weight gain, Christmas spending…

My husband and I don’t do the gifting every year and we probably have less than 10 Christmas decorations, but I actually love this holiday! For me, it’s all about cooking, listening to music, being all around cozy and drinking spiced hot wine (“Glögg”). Favorite Christmas album? Destiny’s Child’s 8 days of Christmas. Sassy harmonies combined with jingle bells – sign me up! (And give hubby a pair of ear-plugs.)

It's the real deal.
It’s the real deal.

Now, let’s talk Christmas trees!

Did you know that the most eco-friendly choice is to buy a real tree each year, instead of buying and reusing an artificial one?

A Swedish nonprofit I follow, the Nature Protection Organization, published an article about it last year, which is where I first read about it.

Before your go “hurray” and head on over to Wal-Mart’s parking lot, there are a few constraints to consider. You need to make sure your tree was grown sustainably, preferably organic, and comes from a nearby, healthy forest (or farm). You’ll probably have most luck shopping with a small vendor or straight from the owner to assure that you’re getting a happy tree.

The tree should then be cut and composted, used for heating (if you have a high efficiency furnace) or collected by the municipality for use as heating material or be composted, large scale, when the season is over.

Unless someone in the family is allergic, a real tree is also a safe choice for your home.

Taking a closer look at the option, an artificial tree, there are several (obvious) reasons as to why this type of tree is worse for the environment than the real one. First, the artificial, plastic Christmas tree was transported here from far away; most often from China, may have been manufactured un-ethically and generally contains chemicals.  It comes wrapped in plastic, inside a cardboard box with ink on it (waste!). And when it’s time to get a new one, should it get old and worn, it’s not recyclable and ends up in landfill (waste!). Even if you use it for as long as 10 years, a real, locally grown, sustainable tree, should still be better.

There’s an exception; if you already own a plastic tree, of course, using that one again is the best choice!

We had guests for Christmas last year so we said yes to the mess of decorating our house (a little). We went with a real tree, obviously, which we picked out at the local farmers’ market. We decorated it with homemade paper decorations, popcorn string, Mardi Gras beads, the few ornaments we already had, and the main attraction was a colorful string of lights from Taiwan. I’ve never been into the multi-colored lights but it was the ONLY box of lights I could find not made in China! See, this challenge is forever pushing my boundaries of style.

This year, it may just be the two of us for Christmas and we haven’t decided if we’re having a tree or not, yet. If we are, we will do a style-repeat from last year since it was such a looker!

What do you think? Artificial or real?

Picking out the tree. Notice the wonderful "Christmas weather" #Houston
Picking out the tree. Notice the wonderful “Christmas weather” #Houston
Making the popcorn string took a long time!
Making the popcorn string took a long time!
Wow, look at them classy lights! Ella & Ben are very cute though, and I spy American made New Balance sneakers in the background.
Wow, look at them classy lights! Ella & Ben are very cute though, and I spy American made New Balance sneakers in the background.

My Swedish (speaking) readers can read the article HERE.

12 thoughts on “Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree… when disposable beats reusable

  1. Awww! I love those pictures! This was an enlightening article. I had no idea! Real trees are so pretty, but they make me sneeze like crazy. You would be proud! Our artificial prelit tree was one our neighbors were throwing out! REUSE! David spent HOURS clipping the non functioning lights off of the tree. I think that you should have a tree this year! :) Come on! You know it was pretty and you’re supporting people that responsibly grow Christmas trees. :)


    1. Two comments today, both from ladies using hand-me-downs! Grand! I’m so proud of you!! The allergy-issue is definitely the reason for many when it comes to buying trees. Ha! Not sure… but can’t wait to see yours :)


  2. Interesting! I guess that makes sense, though! We do artificial trees for now because we keep getting hand-me-downs. So I figure that’s pretty sustainable. Now I know that when ours dies, we’ll go for real ones!


  3. I love xmas trees and can’t wait to get one! Real one of course! Only fake thing i prefer to the real thing is fur, obviously.
    I also try to use the tree a bit longer which means i get it at least one week before xmas eve. Somehow that feels a bit more responsible… making sure to get the most of the cut down tree. Maybe fooling myself…
    An other option when i come to think about it, is to have a tree painted on fabric that can be hung on the wall and of course things similar to that idea. Like cut one out of paper or build one out of wood. Maybe a blog post for early dec next year? ;)


    1. Sandra, that’s a great idea! Let’s work on it together!! Here in US they bring in the tree the first week of December, which is why I posted this so early. The longer it stands the better the holiday mood, right? To enjoy anything as long as possible is not fooling oneself! :) Send me a picture of your tree!!


  4. We have the opportunity to buy our real Yule tree with a root ball still attached. We need a bigger container for the bottom BUT we can then replant the tree when the ground thaws. Our neighborhood, though, collects all trees after the holidays and then holds a massive community bonfire.


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