The Christmas tree: most of us love having one, and accept that it gets chopped down for two weeks of attention. But what other environmentally friendly alternatives are there?
The Christmas tree has become a statement. Some stick to natural resources and decorate their Christmas tree with straw stars and gingerbread hearts. Others can’t get enough Christmas bling and wrap their tree in metres upon metres of tinsel. But the question of eco-friendly trees starts with buying the tree itself.
Poor Christmas tree!
A Norway spruce, Nordmann fir or even a plastic tree? However, in times of melting polar caps, the ecological aspect of our beloved Christmas trees needs to be considered.
There’s nothing sadder than seeing all the bare, dried out Christmas trees lined up on the streets, waiting to be collected. It’s even worse that a tree has to give up its life for just one Christmas season.
The ecological drama goes back to the very roots: many Christmas trees come from monocultures. Apart from any fertilisers and pesticides used, these are essentially worthless to insects and birds and are a burden on the soil. ‘Poor Christmas tree!’ you might say. But is there another option?
The big drawback with plastic Christmas trees
The good news is that everyone is in agreement. The worldwide web is full of exuberant ideas for anyone who wants to try something different. A plastic Christmas tree isn’t exactly a surprising choice, and it’s certainly not an innovative one. And of course, the resemblance to a real fir tree can’t be denied. However, the big drawback is that a plastic fir tree isn’t necessarily more ecological than a real tree. They also have to be produced.
Plastic Christmas trees are, generally speaking, made from fossil raw materials which release CO2 during production. Furthermore, they can contain materials that are difficult to dispose of, for example PVC and PE, or harmful materials such as plasticisers. Nowadays, production mostly takes place in East Asia, where environmental standards are at a minimum. The subsequent transport to Europe generates even more emissions.
However, for anyone still wanting a plastic Christmas tree, they should use it for at least six years. In terms of ecology, it performs worse than a real tree. Other estimations recommend an even longer minimum use.
Environmentally friendly Christmas tree alternatives
For those who are dedicated to finding an alternative and can trust themselves not to fall into a pit of despair at the thought of not having a real tree, there are lots of creative options out there. After some extensive research, these environmentally friendly Christmas tree alternatives have made it to the top of the list:
- Christmas tree made from wood: There are lots of different options here. A Christmas tree made from an old wooden pallet, on which a fir tree can be spray painted or painted in white, seems like a great idea. Nails are hammered into the palette. Baubles, sweets and other things can then be added to it. It looks good and is very individual, and can be used as an Advent calendar before Christmas rolls around!
- Christmas tree mobile: The best way to hang up the mobile is to use a round grate and thin chains of the same length, which can be attached to a carabiner. And yes, the carabiner has to be somehow attached to the ceiling. However, you can design the mobile as you like, with string or thread, and traditional or whacky Christmas decorations. If you want the mobile to be in the shape of a Christmas tree, hang up the first (smaller) baubles on short threads in the middle of the rod and work your way down, and towards the outside of the grate, with increasingly longer bits of thread.
- A Christmas tree taped onto the wall is very cool: find some nice festive tape and tape a Christmas tree to the wall. It’s fast, easy and creative.
- How about a Christmas tree à la Easter tree? Collect some branches, arrange in a vase and hang your favourite decorations on them. If you want to make a deluxe version, paint the branches. White, red, or perhaps grey? Depending on the tree decorations used, this could be a real eye-catcher. It’s affordable, and even if there’s no tree, there’s still a bit of nature in the living room.
- And then there’s the minimalist alternative: buy a large blackboard and some chalk in the children’s or craft section. Get started: together with your family, draw your dream Christmas tree. It’s easy to make, easy to put away and there’s no pesky needles on the floor! No meltdowns either, just some festive creative fun!
The mobile tree and tape tree are also a good idea if you don’t have much space at home.
Christmas trees – real, but eco-friendly
What if you just can’t get rid of the idea of a real tree at Christmas and the smell of resin? Even real trees can be environmentally friendly Christmas trees – as long as they are cultivated in Switzerland, and in the region if possible.
In Swiss Christmas tree farms, less herbicides, pesticides and fungicides and fertilisers are used, and that’s not even mentioning the shorter transport routes. Just like with other products, it’s always a good idea to buy from producers in the area and keep an eye out for trees with a certification (e.g. with the Bud Label or FSC) Nowadays, rental trees are even being offered that will be planted again after the holidays, meaning you can enjoy your Christmas tree in all its festive glory, without worrying about the environmental impact.