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The Most Eco Christmas Tree & DIY Options

The Most Eco Christmas Tree & DIY Options

Which Christmas tree is best? Real, fake or artistic leftovers?

As we edge closer to Xmas, it’s that time of year again for the great Christmas Tree debate.

TO CUT TO THE BOTTOM LINE, REAL TREES GENERALLY TRUMP FAKE, WITH CONDITIONS, BUT AS ALWAYS, ANYTHING RECYCLED WILL TRUMP BOTH FAKE AND REAL. (WITH APOLOGIES FOR THE TRUMP REFERENCE.)

If you are considering a new tree - real, recycled, fake - I am not sure who said a Christmas tree had to be a big assed green pine thing dripping with glitter & plastic ornaments anyway? 

For many people, tradition is exactly what Christmas is about so let's have a look at the pine tree options first.

Real Trees

Thousands of real trees are cut down and sold every year and on the surface you'd think a real tree is hands down better than a fake. After all, a real tree absorbs more than 1 ton of CO2 throughout its lifetime and each acre of farmed trees will produce enough oxygen for the daily needs of 18 people.

THE PROBLEM WITH REAL TREES IS THAT WE TYPICALLY CHOP DOWN A NEW TREE EACH YEAR. SO IT IS THE RECYCLING OF THE TREE THROUGH SOME KIND OF PROGRAM IS THE IMPORTANT CONTRIBUTOR TO GIVING REAL (CUT DOWN) TREES THEIR LEAD OVER PLASTIC FAKES.

Christmas trees are recycled into mulch and used in landscaping and gardening or chipped and used for playground material, hiking trails, paths and walkways. 

If you really want a live tree, the best bet by far is to consider getting a potted tree like a Norfolk Island Pine and planting it after Christmas. Though not feasible for everybody because of climate and home size, living trees make perfect Christmas trees and are the gift that keeps on giving. Just bring them into the home for about 10 days and replant after Christmas.

Fake plastic trees

Unless you keep a fake plastic tree for more than 10 years, real trees are a better environmental bet. Fake plastic trees have about three times more impact on climate change and resource depletion than the natural tree.

Most fake plastic trees are made of metal and polyvinyl chloride (PVC). This essentially means fake trees are non-recyclable and non-biodegradable and will sit in a landfill for centuries to come once dumped. And if you really want a fake tree, just make sure you keep it for 20 years or more.

Fake non plastic trees

There are actually all kinds of fake plastic tree alternatives around if you do a little digging - and many of them environmentally friendly. Timber Revival in Melbourne for example, sells a fantastic tree out of recycled timber offcuts. You can order them online and they arrive flat packed.




Christmas tree trivia

This information comes with a warning to the more faint hearted, especially if you are eating anything that was previously hanging on your Christmas tree. The predecessor of the modern fake Christmas tree was actually the toilet brush. Invented by Addis Brush Company from brush bristles in the 1930s, it is widely thought to be the original backbone of today’s fake trees.

This one is a copy of the original idea, made by Kuno Prey  (a desinger who collaborated with Alessi) in 2005 and sold for around $375USD at the time. The 'tree' scales up to 150 centimetres tall and while there seem to be many images of them on Google, they are no longer being manufactured. If you want one, you'll have to fossick in the secondhand market. 

I don't know about you, but for my taste, the entire look is a bit too close to a toilet brush stand at the supermarket for my choosing. Which of course brings the point that looking at your Xmas tree will never be quite the same, will it? 

DIY Trees

If you don't want to make a diy tree out of toilet brushes, there are many excellent options for making Christmas trees out of pretty much anything. Driftwood trees, old tree branch trees, a floral arrangement on a chair. There is a fair argument that people who insist on buying green trees – fake or real, lack imagination.

You really can make a Christmas tree out of just about anything – wood, books, scrap paper, metal coat, branches, hangers, felt. Anything you can shape into your image of Christmas and make it your own. 

The trick to DIY anything is confidence and a bit of flair. How many times have you been away for Christmas and made your own tree out of whatever you could find at the beach or in the bush?

A tree can easily be a string of Christmas cheer on a wall or a shaped tree on a board. The reality is that all you need be sure of is that there is space underneath for your presents! 




Images: Shutterstock | Unsplash | Timber Revival

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