Is it possible to celebrate Christmas without buying a dead tree or, worse, substituting a tree altogether with a vaguely tree-like heap of plastic, metal, and tinsel? Yes! Let’s look at three ways to find your perfect Christmas “sustainabili-tree.”
The first option you should consider is bringing a live tree into your home. It doesn’t have to be a huge evergreen tree. It could be whatever trees are common to your area, or whichever species you might fancy planting around or near your house. (In fact, it doesn’t even have to be a tree. Some bushes and shrubs look very tree-like and acclimate wonderfully to indoor living.) You could even plant a fruiting tree, like a persimmon tree if it grows in your climate, which offers beautiful and sweet fruit during the Christmas season. It might take a year or two after planting to fruit, but you’ll have a cache of delicacies when it does.
Before you buy the tree, it might be a good idea to call the city parks and recreations dept. and find out which city dept. or NGO in your area plants trees. Ask them for recommendations about which tree would be best to buy and plant and also ask them if you can donate your tree to them after Christmas for planting somewhere in your city. If you can’t find such a dept. or organization, contact local schools and ask if you can plant a tree on campus or contact nature/youth groups and ask if they would be up to the challenge of planting a tree somewhere. You can also ask your local nursery about tree types and planting tips.
Last year, in my house, we had a live Christmas tree. It wasn’t a pine, a spruce, or a fir… It was a “strawberry tree,” so-called for the strawberry-like fruits it bares in in the fall/winter. It was different certainly, but had beautiful, tiny bell-shaped flowers, which were like natural ornaments.
We bought it from a local nursery, and of course we had to water it, make sure it had enough sunlight, and introduce it first to the temperature of our house. However, it really brought back the original meaning of having a Christmas tree in your home in the first place.
The idea of having a Christmas tree, so I’ve been told, was to welcome something alive and green into your home in the middle of an otherwise dead, white, and cold time of the year. This is best accomplished with a live tree. It feels wonderful to know that you are caring for a living tree for a few weeks during winter when all outside is cold.
After Christmas, we managed to donate the tree to the Friends of the Urban Forest, in San Francisco, where we were living. The group cared for the tree in one of its nurseries until it was ready to plant somewhere in the city. It’s great to know that somewhere in San Francisco is growing our dear little Christmas tree.
This brings me to the second suggestion. Friends of the Urban Forest are offering the opportunity for people to buy Christmas trees that will be planted in San Francisco after Christmas. This is an especially wonderful opportunity if you live near the Bay Area and can help with the planting, however, it’s a great way to celebrate trees during Christmas no matter where you live. Check out www.fuf.net before December 19’th to buy/adopt a live tree and have it planted in San Francisco.
Third, there is something that I’ve been meaning to do for a while, but haven’t yet done. This is to decorate a tree outside. Maybe last year you bought a live tree and planted it somewhere in your yard. You can bring your ornaments (waterproof ones) and Christmas lights (LED?) out and light up your neighborhood.
It must also be said in defense of Christmas tree farms that they continuously replant and care for carbon-capturing evergreen trees that give us clean air for a number of years on the farm before being cut. However, why not let the little guys live a little longer? It isn’t nearly as rewarding and wonderful an experience to cut down a tree and toss it on the curb a week later than it is to care for and plant or donate a living tree. And you know the saying, “the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago; the second-best time is today.”
Any way you go, Merry Christmas, and have a wonderful holiday season.
Additional Resources Worth Checking Out:
Greening Your Christmas Tree | Care2
[This post was written by Gavin Hudson.]