Wednesday, November 4, 2009

In search of a "green" Christmas tree

Halloween has just ended, and stores and theme parks are decorating for.. Christmas. Yes, Thanksgiving has not yet come, and it has been pushed aside in place of the impending holidays. And so, although the holiday is more than a month away, I find myself offhandedly planning for Christmas. Eco cards and eco gifts and the one that has still eluded me, the eco tree.

I love live Christmas trees, but as I live in an ultra tiny apartment, I do not think I could get a cut one small enough. This thought - the necessary smallness of the tree - naturally leads me to think of Emmit Otter and their "Christmas branch". Why cut down a whole tree? I could decorate just a branch instead! The pitifulness of a Christmas branch actually appeals to me. I worked at a.. plant place once (not garden center, what would one call The Organized Jungle?) and at Christmas time we sold trees. In order to get them ready a certain amount of trimming was necessary, and they were more than happy to give away the trimmings. So, I suppose I could find someplace that sells trees and get a few branches for free (they lasted forever in a vase of water and made great wreaths).

Actual live trees (or shaped shrubs or rosemary) with roots are an excellent choice and they are the right size, but I have no yard or porch for it to live on. I don't think one could even survive in my apartment until after Christmas when I could give it away. If you have the space for it though, rosemary trees can be easily transplanted in the yard and require only well drained soil and sun. Another great option is the Easter Red Cedar which is native to Florida, is drought tolerant, and resembles has a Christmas tree shape when young.

Recently I fell in love with tacky artificial trees, and it is in that direction that I am looking this year. I like the look of some tinsel trees, but as I can not find out what they are made of, I have decided to go with something that has perhaps started the tacky Christmas tree tradition: the Aluminum Christmas Tree. If I get a vintage one its reused so no raw materials or energy were used to produce it, its recyclable, and probably biodegradable too. I'm not sure how it will look with some eco ornaments (I think aluminum trees look best with tacky retro ornaments) but I'll let you know!

Another tree option I've fallen in love with is the feather tree. To me they actually look less tacky than tinsel or fake trees. If they're white they make me think of soft fallen snow. I say white because I think it was a pink feather tree that made me fall in love with them. My hesitation with feather trees comes from the fact that I do not know if they are cruelty free or not. How are the feathers acquired? Does someone gather them as they fall, or are they plucked? How green is a feather tree? I have to do more research. I hope they are green, because the glory of getting a two foot or less tree, is that you have room for more.

Christmas tree option number five is very simple, minimalist and affordable. Back in the days when I was an interior plant maintainer I got to explore some very interesting upper class homes. One of my favourties was the house of Ed and Ed. They had great taste in art and since I had their key and came early, I never saw them (except the time I came too early...). I do not remember any of my clients Christmas Trees, except Ed and Ed's. One, (I do not remember if it was real or artificial) had a teddy bear theme, but the other was the best idea for an eco friendly affordable tree. It was simply a few large branches with smooth black bark (beech?) stuck into a plain black pot decorated with glass icicles and little else. As I'd rather not spray paint the branches, my only question is from what kind of tree should I get these branches? Something with a smooth bark, and strong enough to support a few ornaments.

Or, I'll be the grinch, and there will be no tree.
But if I do get one, I will add pictures when I find it!


  1. did you find your aluminum tree? i dunno if i'm gonna have one at my place, since i isn't exactly my place.

  2. I didn't find the perfect aluminum Christmas tree. Maybe next year. I saw some cute 1 footers, but I didn't want to bid too much. Maybe you do what I'm thinking of doing - get some christmas greens (and I don't mean chard) and put them in a vase. Voila, instant tree!


which is more important? i.e. which would you choose at the exclusion of the other?