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Sustainable Christmas Tree – The Most Eco-Friendly Alternatives and the Best Tips

Sustainable Christmas Tree – The 8 Most Eco-Friendly Alternatives and Best Tips

Looking for sustainable alternatives to the Christmas tree? Then you've come to the right place! The Christmas tree is a beautiful, old tradition - millions of people around the world put it in their living room every year.

However, the majority of Christmas trees come from plantations where they have been chemically fertilized and treated with pesticides. Many of these plantation Christmas trees also have long transportation routes behind them. There must be more sustainable and natural alternatives, right?

In this article, I would like to show you how to get a sustainable Christmas tree, what alternatives there are to the classic fir tree and what else is important. Let's go!

Here is a brief overview for you in advance:

  1. Reasons
  2. Alternatives
  3. Christmas tree decorations
  4. Disposal
  5. Closing words

Tip: In the article sustainable Christmas without plastic you will find many more tips for an environmentally friendly Christmas season.

Good reasons for a sustainable Christmas tree

Christmas tree alternatives that are environmentally friendly

In 2018, 29.8 million Christmas trees were sold in Germany - and the trend is rising.₁ First of all, I would like to give you the reasons why you should choose a sustainable Christmas tree rather than a cheap Christmas tree from a plantation:

  • Growth duration: A Nordmann fir, for example, takes eight to ten years to grow big enough to be sold.₂
  • Service life: The Christmas tree usually disappears from the scene by January 6 at the latest. It is therefore usually only cut down to keep it in the home for a few weeks.
  • Climate change: In times of global warming every tree is important - including fir trees. This is because they store the CO2 and counteract climate change.
  • Water consumption: In the decade in which the fir tree grows and thrives on traditional plantations, it naturally also has a very high water consumption. This can be reduced or eliminated entirely by using alternatives.
  • Poisonous plantation trees: Do you really want a cheap tree in your home that has been treated with pesticides and chemicals? For your own health and to protect animals, water and soil, the sustainable alternative is recommended.
  • Disposable: A Christmas tree is often an expensive disposable item that is only used for a short time. So why not opt for a more environmentally friendly alternative?

Tip: So there are also ecological reasons for preferring a sustainable Christmas tree. In the article about the Environmental problems of our time you can find out even more about the greatest challenges facing humanity.

Sustainable Christmas tree: 8 alternatives at a glance

not dry out the roots

There are of course plenty of more environmentally friendly alternatives to the traditional Christmas tree grown on a plantation using pesticides. Here are some ideas for sustainably sourcing or replacing your Christmas tree.

1st organic Christmas tree from organic cultivation

Instead of growing on monoculture plantations, organic Christmas trees usually grow in mixed cultures, so that they can be adapted to the species extinction instead of promoting it. Organically grown trees are also less susceptible to pests and therefore do not need to be treated with pesticides. When buying a sustainable Christmas tree, be sure to look out for the seals that certify organic cultivation - for example Bioland, Naturland, Demeter, FSC or protected terms such as "Bio" and "Öko.

Tip: In the article about Greenwashing you can find out more about protected terms and how you can expose greenwashing companies.

2. Christmas tree from the region

Another sustainable alternative to conventionally grown Christmas trees is the regional Christmas tree. This is because many trees come to us from abroad and actually have longer transportation routes behind them. As most Christmas trees are disposed of after the Christmas season, the emissions caused by transportation are completely unnecessary. Regional spruce, pine and fir trees from organic cultivation are therefore a much more sustainable alternative.

Tip: What applies to the Christmas tree also applies to your diet. You can find out more about this in the article about regional shopping.

3. christmas tree in pot

It is also possible without felling a fir tree. This is, of course, an approach in the spirit of the Zero Waste Lifestyle - because if the Christmas tree is replanted after the Christmas season, it can live on instead of ending up as temporary organic waste.

If this sustainable alternative is an option for you, you should take the following tips to heart:

  • Ideally, the Christmas tree already grown in pot beforeso that the root system is intact and the chances of growth after transplanting increase.
  • Give the Christmas tree in the pot a Chance to slowly get used to the warmer temperatures in the living room. For example, by leaving it in the cold hallway or garage for the time being.
  • The Christmas tree should be rather smaller - a large one up to 1.20 meters is recommended if you want to keep the chances of growth high.
  • Find one coolest possible location for the Christmas tree in your home, so that it survives the time in your four walls undamaged.
  • Water your fir tree every two days and spray it with a little water so that it doesn't dry out and the needles don't fall off.

The following tree varieties are best suited as potted trees:

  • Blue Spruce
  • Nordmann Firs
  • Serbian spruces
  • and Sugarloaf Spruces.

4. fair christmas tree

By no means all Christmas trees are produced under fair conditions - but it is precisely at Christmas that we want fair cooperation. To ensure that the festival of love lives up to its name, you should start with the seeds - because they usually come from Georgia and are harvested there under difficult conditions. Projects such as Fair Trees are committed to ensuring that local workers receive a decent wage and safe climbing equipment.

5. DIY Christmas tree without real tree

I know that a Christmas without a real tree is a tricky subject. Nevertheless, for many people this is of course an alternative to the Christmas tree that should not go unmentioned.

As you can see in the picture above, you can also get creative and make your own Christmas tree alternative - for example from natural materials such as branches and twigs. This way, no tree has to be cut down and you still have the chance to put presents "under the tree".

6. plastic Christmas tree?

Many people naturally think of a reusable plastic Christmas tree as an alternative. Although you can reuse them as often as you like, these trees are often produced in Asia under low environmental standards and transported thousands of kilometers by plane or ship. What's more, the real tree is of course a tradition - the plastic tree is not.

According to studies, a plastic tree only has a better eco-balance than natural trees after 17 years of use. In my opinion, there are more sustainable and natural alternatives to plastic trees.

7. Christmas tree for rent and loan

Yes, that's possible too! There are many providers and rental services for Christmas trees. You borrow a tree in a pot, slowly acclimatize it to the warmth of your home and return it after the Christmas period. Often this is even offered with delivery and collection.

8. a no Christmas tree

The Keinachtsbaum is a wooden tree that you can put together yourself and decorate with fresh branches. A particularly charming and clever solution, in my opinion.

This is because no trees are felled for the fresh branches, only the branches are shortened. The Christmas tree is therefore preserved. And the cost of the branches is absolutely reasonable at 25 to 35 euros. So you can have a "fresh" Christmas tree every year without having to cut down a tree.

If you buy fresh fir branches, they will last between 2 and 4 weeks and therefore just as long as a "normal" fir tree.

You can order the Keinachtsbaum here*.

Make your Christmas tree sustainable

A sustainable Christmas tree is all well and good - but to keep the tradition alive, it still needs decorations and gifts to adorn it. I've also put together a few eco-friendly tips to inspire you here.

Sustainable Christmas tree decorations

Christmas tree - Christmas tree decorations sustainable design

Plastic baubles and constantly new colors on the Christmas tree? Is that really necessary? If you want to make your Christmas tree completely sustainable, you can also opt for natural decorations. Here are a few ideas for inspiration:

  • Do it yourself: How about simply making your own Christmas tree decorations? For example, a straw star - instead of having it shipped thousands of kilometers from Asia, you can simply tie it yourself and then decorate it. do without the plastic packaging.
  • Jewelry made of wood: Stars, Santas and baubles are also available in natural materials such as wood. Make sure that they are not made from tropical wood so that you can Illegal deforestation do not promote.
  • Christmas tree decorations from nature: Of course! Why not simply hang real pine cones on the tree - you can also decorate them and reuse them every year.
  • No harmful substances in Christmas tree decorations: Heavy metals, plasticizers and toxic dyes are often found in Christmas tree decorations - for example, some manufacturers still use lead to make tinsel. Instead, opt for healthy, sustainable alternatives.

Sustainable gifts under the Christmas tree

Not only on the tree, but also under the tree everything should fit! Use the following tips for gifts that are as environmentally friendly as possible:

  • Wrap gifts plastic-free: Why not wrap your gifts without plastic - and in a more creative and natural way instead? In the article Wrap gifts plastic free to find out more.
  • Vegan Christmas Gifts: Are you looking for a cool gift for vegans or would you like to give someone an animal-free present? Then take a look at the article about vegan christmas gifts and gift ideas.
  • Plastic-free Christmas gifts: Sustainable gifts are always well received - read the article about Christmas gifts without plastic inspire.
  • Personalized gifts: Think about something personal, such as a self-designed voucher for a romantic evening, a delicious meal or a massage. This way, you can reduce your consumption at Christmas time and can Save money sustainably.

Question: Do you have any other ideas for sustainable gifts and eco-friendly Christmas tree decorations? Then please write a comment under this post.

Tips for the sustainable disposal of the Christmas tree

Christmas tree disposed of in the trash - sustainable alternatives

The Christmas season is over and by January 6 at the latest, the felled Christmas tree will have been removed from the house. But how do you actually dispose of it properly and as environmentally friendly as possible? Here are a few tips on this too:

  • Before disposal: Your Christmas tree must of course be fully decorated.
  • Do not use artificial snow and decorative sprays: This is because they contain solvents and propellants - which means that the tree will no longer be disposed of as organic waste tomorrow.
  • Proper disposal: Many municipalities publish collection dates on which the Christmas trees are collected from the street - do you? Then you can simply place the tree at the roadside or at the prescribed collection point on collection day. Otherwise, recycling centers and composting plants are the right places to go for free disposal.
  • Do not dispose of in the forest: Please do not simply throw the tree into the forest after Christmas. It will take too long to decompose completely - and it is also an offense.

Tip: How about simply giving a tree as a Christmas present or planting one yourself? You can, for example plant trees online with Treedom and watch them grow. Small farmers look after the tree and can finance their work from the harvest.

Christmas tree? That is also possible in a sustainable way!

As you can see, there are quite a few more sustainable and sensible alternatives to the plantation Christmas tree.

Here is a summary of what is important when it comes to sustainable Christmas trees:

  1. It's best not to buy plantation trees that are only felled for the Christmas season. Plantation farming is not sustainable due to water consumption, CO2 emissions and pesticide pollution.
  2. If you really want a "classic Christmas tree", then choose a tree that is grown locally and organically - or even better - a tree in a pot that won't be thrown away after one season.
  3. Excellent alternatives are also the No Christmas tree*Christmas trees for rent or DIY wooden Christmas trees.

I hope you'll read this article in time to put a sustainable Christmas tree in your living room already this year.

Do you have any questions, tips or your own experiences with sustainable Christmas trees that you would like to share? Then I look forward to your comment under this post.

Stay sustainable and have a wonderful Christmas season,

Christoph from CareElite

PS: If you haven't got all your presents together yet, you can also register with the Gifts from the plastic free store that I wrote for you.

₁ Statista GmbH (2019: Sales of Christmas trees in Germany in the years 2000 to 2018, available at [07.12.2023].

₂ VRM GmbH & Co. KG: How long does a Christmas tree grow?, available at [07.12.2023].

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* Links with asterisks are so-called Affiliate linksIf you click on it and buy something, you automatically and actively support my work with, as I receive a small share of the proceeds - and of course nothing changes in the product price. Many thanks for your support and best regards, Christoph!

Christoph Schulz

Christoph Schulz

I'm Christoph, an environmental scientist and author - and here at CareElite I'm campaigning against plastic waste in the environment, climate change and all the other major environmental problems of our time. Together with other environmentally conscious bloggers, I want to give you tips & tricks for a naturally healthy, sustainable life as well as your personal development.

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