Are there sustainable alternatives to the Christmas tree? The Christmas tree is a beautiful, old tradition - millions of people around the world put it in their living room every year. But a large proportion of Christmas trees come from plantations where they have been chemically fertilized and treated with pesticides. Many such plantation Christmas trees also have long transport routes behind them. There must be more sustainable and natural alternatives, right?
In this article I want to show you how to get a sustainable Christmas tree and what alternatives there are to the classic fir. Let's go!
Here's another quick table of contents for you:
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
In 2018, 29.8 million Christmas trees were sold in Germany - and the trend is rising.₁ Here I would like to start by giving you the reasons to prefer a sustainable Christmas tree and not the cheap Christmas tree from the plantation:
- Growth duration: A Nordmann fir, for example, takes eight to ten years to grow large enough for sale.₂
- Service life: As a rule, the Christmas tree disappears from the scene by January 6 at the latest. So it is usually cut down only to have it in the apartment for a few weeks.
- Climate change: In times of global warming every tree is important - including the fir tree. Because they store the CO emitted by us humans.2 and counteract climate change.
- Water consumption: In the decade in which the fir tree grows and thrives on classic plantations, it naturally also has a very high water consumption. Alternatives can reduce or eliminate this altogether.
- Poisonous plantation trees: Do you really want a cheap and with pesticides and chemically treated tree in your home? For the sake of your own health and the protection of animals, water and soil, the sustainable alternative is recommended.
- Disposable: A Christmas tree is often an expensive disposable item that you only use for a short time. So why not go for a more environmentally friendly alternative?
Tip: So the preference for a sustainable Christmas tree also has ecological reasons. In the article about the Environmental problems of our time you will learn even more about the greatest challenges facing humanity.
Sustainable Christmas tree: 8 alternatives at a glance
Of course, there are plenty of more environmentally friendly alternatives to the classic plantation grown Christmas tree that uses pesticides. Here are some ideas for sourcing or replacing your Christmas tree sustainably.
1. organic Christmas tree from organic farming
Instead of growing up on monoculture plantations, organic Christmas trees usually grow up in mixed cultures, so that they can, for example, be exposed 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 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'll learn more about trademarked terms and how to expose companies that greenwash themselves.
2. Christmas tree from the region
Another sustainable alternative to the Christmas tree from conventional cultivation is the regional fir tree. This is because many trees come to us from abroad and actually have longer transport routes behind them. Since most fir trees are disposed of after the Christmas season, the emissions from transport are absolutely unnecessary. Regional spruces, pines and firs from ecological cultivation are therefore a much more sustainable alternative.
Tip: What applies to the Christmas tree, of course, also applies to your diet. You can learn more about this in the article about regional shopping.
3. christmas tree in pot
It is also possible without cutting down a fir tree. This is then of course an approach completely in the sense 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 short-lived organic waste.
If this sustainable alternative is for you, 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 up to 1.20 meters is recommended if you want to keep the chances of growth high.
- Find one location as cool as possible for the Christmas tree in your home, so that it survives the time in your four walls undamaged.
- Water your fir every two days and spray it a little water so that it does not dry up and so that the needles do not fall off.
By the way, the following varieties of trees are best suited as potted trees:
- Blue Spruce
- Nordmann Firs
- Serbian spruces
- and Sugarloaf Spruces.
4. fair christmas tree
By far not all Christmas trees are produced under fair conditions - but especially at Christmas one wishes for a fair cooperation. To ensure that the feast 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 completely without a real tree is a touchy subject. Nevertheless, this is of course for many an alternative to the Christmas tree, which 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?
For many, a reusable plastic Christmas tree naturally comes to mind as a Christmas tree alternative. You can reuse them as often as you like, but these trees are often produced in Asia under low environmental standards and transported thousands of kilometers by plane or ship. Moreover, the real tree, of course, has tradition - the plastic tree does not.
According to studies, a plastic tree has a better ecological balance than natural trees only after 17 years of use. In my opinion, there are more sustainable and natural alternatives to the plastic tree.
7. Christmas tree for rent and loan
Yes, this is also possible! There are many suppliers and rental services for fir trees. You borrow a tree in a pot, slowly accustom it to the warmth in the apartment and return it after the Christmas season. Often this is even offered with delivery and collection.
8. a no Christmas tree
The Keinachtsbaum is a wooden tree to put together yourself, which you decorate only with fresh branches yourself. A particularly charming and smart solution, in my opinion.
Because for the fresh branches are not cut down trees, but only shorten the branches. The fir tree is thus 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.
Make your Christmas tree sustainable
A sustainable Christmas tree is all well and good - but in order to keep the tradition alive, you still need ornaments and gifts to adorn it. I've also put together a few eco-friendly tips for your inspiration here.
Sustainable Christmas tree decorations
Plastic balls and constantly new colors on the Christmas tree? Is that really necessary? If you want to make your Christmas tree completely sustainable, then you can also rely on natural ornaments. Here are a few ideas for inspiration:
- Do it yourself: How about making your own Christmas tree ornaments? For example, a straw star - instead of having it travel thousands of miles from Asia, you can simply tie it yourself and 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 tropical woods, so that you can use the illegal deforestation do not promote.
- Christmas tree decorations from nature: Of course! Why not just hang real pine cones on the tree - you can also decorate them a bit, for example, and use them again 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 the most environmentally friendly gifts possible:
- Wrap gifts plastic-free: Why not wrap your gifts without plastic - and a little more creative and natural instead? In the article Wrap gifts plastic free you will learn more.
- Vegan Christmas Gifts: Are you still looking for a cool gift for vegans or do you want to give someone a gift free of animal suffering? Then take a look at the article about vegan christmas gifts and gift ideas.
- Plastic-free Christmas gifts: Sustainable gifts are always well received - let yourself be inspired in 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. In this way, you can reduce your consumption at Christmastime and at the same time Save money sustainably.
Question: Do you have more ideas for sustainable gifts and eco-friendly Christmas tree decorations? Then feel free to write a comment below this post.
Tips for sustainable disposal of the Christmas tree
The Christmas season is over and by January 6 at the latest, the felled Christmas tree is taken out of the house. But how do you actually dispose of it properly and as environmentally friendly as possible? You'll get a few tips on that here, too:
- Before disposal: Your Christmas tree must be completely decorated, of course.
- Do not use artificial snow and decorative sprays: These, in fact, contain solvents and propellants - us tomorrow for the fact that the tree will no longer be disposed of as organic waste.
- Proper disposal: Many municipalities publish collection dates on which the Christmas trees are collected from the street - in your area too? Then you can simply place the tree at the side of the road or at the prescribed collection point on the collection day. Otherwise, recycling centers and composting plants are the right place to go for free disposal.
- Do not dispose of in the forest: Please do not simply throw the tree into the forest after the Christmas season. It takes too long there to be completely decomposed - besides, it is an administrative offense.
Tip: How about giving a tree as a gift for Christmas or planting one yourself? You can for example have trees planted online with Treedom and watch them grow. Small farmers take care of 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 for sustainable Christmas trees:
- It's best not to buy plantation trees that are only cut down for the Christmas season. Plantation farming is not sustainable due to water consumption, CO2 emissions and pesticide exposure.
- If you absolutely want a "classic Christmas tree," go for a regionally and organically grown tree - or even better - a tree in a pot that won't be discarded after one season.
- Excellent alternatives are also the No Christmas tree*, Christmas trees for rent or DIY Christmas trees made of wood.
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 great holiday season,
PS.: By the way, if you haven't got all your presents together yet, you can also register with the Gifts from the plastic free store get inspired.
₁ Statista GmbH (2019: Sales of Christmas trees in Germany from 2000 to 2018, available at https://de.statista.com/statistik/daten/studie/372294/umfrage/absatz-von-weihnachtsbaeumen-in-deutschland. [20.12.2019].
₂ VRM GmbH & Co. KG: How long does a Christmas tree grow?, available at https://kruschel-kinder.de/wissen/natur-und-forschen/Wie_lange_waechst_ein_Weihnachtsbaum_13698950.htm. [20.12.2019].