6 Eco-Friendly Christmas Tree Options

Eco-Friendly Christmas Tree Options

Spread the Sustainable Gospel!

Real versus fake – the ever debatable topic when discussing eco-friendly Christmas tree options. Which is better for the environment? Which is worse? Is it better to just not have a tree at all? It gets overwhelming and downright depressing during a time when we should be happy and celebrating a season of peace, love, and joy. And just like that, the darn tree sucked that joy right out of us. Well, it did for me the first time I really thought about how my holiday decor impacted the planet and for what..visual pleasantries?

Ok, ok I’ve set a pretty dim tone for this post but I’m about to bring it back up because I have some AWESOME options for an eco-friendly Christmas tree that will make you a BAZILLION times more excited about it. I mean, I’m so excited about one of these options that I may start the holiday decorating early this year…*GASP*! That’s definitely not normal for me considering the holidays just aren’t my favorite time of year. Only for the over-consumption and complete disregard for what the season is truly about. Of course, my enjoyment of the holidays has increased since adopting a zero waste life.

Related: How Zero Waste Improved my Holiday Spirit

Now, first and foremost, if you already have a fake tree you put up every year, great. Keep doing that. Don’t change a thing – but still read and share this post for your friends and family. The most eco-friendly thing to do in about ANY situation is to use what you already have and not to buy anything new. Sometimes the best solutions are the easiest.

6 Eco-Friendly Christmas Tree Options

eco-friendly Christmas trees

Get a Real, Plantable Tree

This is the one I’m most excited about. All year long I preach, “Plant a tree!, Plant a tree!” Then Christmas rolls around and we start chopping them down like crazed lumberjacks. I know tree farms replant the trees that are cut but think of the resources and energy that go into a poor tree that ends up dead and in a landfill in the end. Seems a little….should I say it…..yep gonna say it…..wasteful.

I recently reached out to my local conservation group and asked them if it was doable to have a potted tree indoors during the holiday season and plant it immediately after. Like in the dead of winter when the ground is probably frozenish. The answer was YES! See? I’m way too excited about this. 

Rule number 1: Find a tree that is appropriate for your zone and not invasive. This is also where working with the conservation group is helpful. Also, your local nurseries should be able to help you out.

Rule number 2: Dig a hole for where you’d like to plant your tree, now. Once the ground gets hard, digging a hole will be impossible.

Rule number 3: Ease your tree into the warmth and then into the cold again later. Most recommend keeping your tree in the garage for a couple of weeks before bringing it in.

Rule number 4: Finally, once it’s ready to plant. Put tree into the hole that was dug eons ago and backfill (You’ll want to save some backfill dirt for this part). Water and enjoy for years.

Rent a Tree

If you live in a larger city, chances are you can actually rent a real, live tree. You pick out the tree, the tree is delivered, and after the end of the season, the company will pick the tree back up. It will be watered and cared for until the next holiday season. When trees get too large to be used for Christmas trees, they are planted or donated to local parks.

Check out the following companies that rent Christmas trees:

Decorate a House Plant

Festivize – yep, just made that word up – all of your houseplants with candy canes, little tiny ornaments, or even homemade garland. It would be pretty darn adorable and leave you with very little to clean up after the holiday season has ended. 

Get Creative

Got cardboard lying around? Make a tree with it! Make a tree out of books or even hang ornaments off of a piece of wood to get that festive but minimal look. 

Get a Fake, Secondhand Tree

Check out social media marketplaces and thrift stores, you’ll be able to find a secondhand tree pretty easily. My only recommendation is to search for a higher quality secondhand tree. In my experience those “better” trees tend to loose less plastic needles which we don’t want ending up in our water streams.

And if you have a real or fake tree you’d like to responsibly part with, check out my post: 

Related: 8 Ways to Recycle Your Real and Fake Christmas Trees

Go for a Real Tree

If you can’t get a potted tree, just opt for a real tree. Most tree farms will plant more trees for each one cut down to ensure the trees are replaced. Once the holidays are over, make sure that tree is disposed of properly to keep it out of the landfill. In my humble opinion, real trees (even cut down) are far more environmentally friendly than buying a new fake tree.

And for more Christmas related Zero Waste Posts check out:

Related: Zero Waste Alternatives to Holiday Wrapping
Related: 101 Zero Waste Gift Ideas


Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!!

9 thoughts on “6 Eco-Friendly Christmas Tree Options

  1. What a great post! I had heard of some of these options, but renting a tree! My one concern with planting a tree is what if you have limited yard space? In 10 years you will have a forest! I am not trying to be overly critical, because I really like this idea and think that it is the most sustainable. I am just pondering the long-term if we make it our annual tradition??

      • When I was a kid, we dug up and then replanted our Christmas trees and now they are HUGE and a nice little forest in my parents’ backyard. Year round green! The tree farm we went to was a project that a family had started to save money for college. The sons were responsible for more and more of it as they got older and then every winter break they’d be home from college and still there running the sales. They loved it when you choose to dig up instead of saw down because it made it way easier for them to replant.

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