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Christmas trees are a lovely addition to your home if you're feeling festive, however like so many other well-intended traditions, they have turned into an industry that produces huge amounts of waste each year, harming our beautiful planet.
If you're in the market for a Christmas tree this holiday season, here are a few suggestions to make a sustainable choice...
Live potted tree
Your best bet for a truly green tree this year is renting or buying a living tree. Having a living tree is visually pleasing, and it will produce oxygen and suck up carbon dioxide. Live, potted trees can be rented or bought from a number of organisations, or try your local nursery or even farmers market.
Rental trees are returned after Christmas and replanted each year, where they continue to grow and exchange C02 for oxygen.
If you decided to buy a living tree, then you can re-use it for next year by re-planting it in your backyard (or in a pot) after Christmas. Be careful, it will need some time to re-adjust to sunlight beforehand. Your local nursery will be able to offer advice on re-planting your tree including advice about location, spacing and maintenance through-out the year.
Another living tree idea which is a little less care-intensive is a Rosemary tree. A healthy potted rosemary plant will survive for years and requires very little care. Not only do they smell great but you can pluck a few sprigs right off it and throw it into you're oven as you prepare your yummy holiday dinner. Win-win.
You could also use any living tree or plant that you already have in your house, and fill it with up-cycled and homemade decorations.
Remember, if you're going to commit to a living tree this holiday season, treat it as carefully as you would any other plant that you've adopted into your home. Make a commitment to keeping it alive and healthy, as tree waste is exactly what we want to avoid.
What about buying a fake tree if I'm planning to reuse it?
There's an age old debate over whether buying a real tree once a year is actually worse for the environment than buying a plastic one that you will reuse again and again.
A cut real tree is different to the potted living tree we suggest above, which still has its roots intact, meaning it can be replanted. Real trees are the ubiquitous kind at Christmas time, and are in fact very wasteful as most of them end up as dead tree waste after Christmas due to laziness around the correct disposal.
However, even if your intention was to buy and reuse a fake plastic tree, its always better to buy a plant over non-biodegradable plastic. A plant is a renewable resource, 100-percent biodegradable and easily recycled. Plastic Christmas trees in general are made of non-recyclable, non-degradable plastics and metals which won't decompose, meaning they will all eventually end up in landfill.
So if you can't find a live potted tree to rent or buy this year, then a real Christmas tree is still a better option than a fake one, as long as you make sure it gets recycled and disposed of properly after Christmas.
Or, if you're willing to try something different, check out these amazing upcycled Christmas trees, such as these ladder trees below:
In the days leading up to Christmas, 1 Million Women will offer an alternative to what has turned into a hugely consumerist holiday. We give you a path to take on which you can ignore the external pressures telling you to "buy more" and that "the more you buy, the happier you will make your loved ones".
The Festive season is a time to share with your loved ones.
Take up the personal challenge and join us for a No Waste Festive Season!
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