9 Sustainable Christmas Tree Ideas for Eco-friendly Celebrations

The holiday season is synonymous with joy, family, gifts and the iconic tree as a jovial lounge ornament. It’s not like Christmas without a tree! But as we revel in the festive spirit, it’s essential to consider the environmental impact of our traditions. In this guide, we’ll explore the choices between a traditional cut tree, an artificial tree, or opting for other types of trees. Are real trees truly better for the environment, or is it time to embrace the convenience of other alternatives? Let’s delve into the world of Christmas trees this year and unravel the eco-friendly options that align with sustainable celebrations!


The Dilemma: Real or Fake Christmas Trees? Which Option is Better for the Environment?

Every year millions of people around the world are faced with the choice of how to choose an eco-friendly Christmas tree. Should you buy a living Christmas tree or an evergreen fake tree? The choice involves considering various factors that contribute to its environmental impact.

Traditional potted trees are often grown on Christmas tree farms, where they absorb carbon dioxide and support local economies. Real trees help fight climate change so as long as they have proper roots and you can replant the tree, that’s a truly sustainable option. However, the environmental cost lies in their transportation, as these trees are often shipped long distances to reach consumers. In America, the National Christmas Tree Association offers a wholesale tree locator where you can find tree farms across the U.S. It is a great tool as you can choose the location near you lowering the environmental impact during transportation.

On the other hand, artificial Christmas trees are made of plastic, more precisely carbon-intensive polyvinyl chloride PVC and other non-biodegradable materials, have a high greenhouse gas footprint, and contribute to landfill waste as these trees are not recyclable. 80% of artificial trees are shipped out of China, the largest manufacturing country for the Christmas tree market.


Related: Your Comprehensive Guide to a Plastic Free Christmas


What is the Carbon Footprint of an Artificial Tree?

According to the British Carbon Trust, a fake Christmas tree has a CO2 footprint of up to 40kg (88 lbs), and it needs to be reused at least 7-20 times depending on the weight and different materials in the tree to offset its own greenhouse gas footprint.

What is the Carbon Footprint of a Real Tree?

As a comparison, according to data from the Carbon Trust, buying real trees has a different carbon footprint depending on what happens at the end of their life. If they are used as splinters for woodwork, mulch, compost or are burnt as firewood they have up to 3.5kg CO2 (7.7 lbs). However, if they are decomposing in a waste dump the carbon footprint increases more than four times to up to 16kg CO2 (35 lbs). Even better is if you can keep the tree by replanting it in your own garden. In that case, get a real tree!

Real Christmas Tree vs. Artificial Christmas Tree: Assessing the Pros and Cons

The debate between real and artificial Christmas trees has been ongoing, with each option presenting its own set of advantages and drawbacks. Real trees are biodegradable, support local agriculture, tree planting, and can be composted. However, they involve cutting down a living tree, which some argue is detrimental to the environment. Artificial trees, while reusable, are made of non-recyclable materials and have a significant carbon footprint associated with their production as highlighted above.


Related: Reusable Gift Wrapping: How to Furoshiki?


Why Does the Choice of a Christmas Tree Matter for the Environment?

The choice of a Christmas tree goes beyond mere aesthetics; it impacts the environment in various ways. Understanding the lifecycle of both real and artificial trees allows consumers to make informed decisions. By considering factors like carbon footprint, manufacturing, and disposal methods, individuals can contribute to a more eco-conscious celebration without compromising on the joyous spirit.

In the USA alone, according to nature.org, 10 million artificial trees are purchased every year, and many end up in landfills. From these numbers, you understand why it’s important before thinking about what to buy.

In the next sections, we’ll explore sustainable alternatives to traditional Christmas trees and how they can enhance the joy of the season while minimizing our environmental impact.


9 Eco-friendly Alternatives to a Fake Tree: What are the Sustainable Christmas Tree Options?

Here is a suggestion for 9 plastic free Christmas tree ideas from do-it-yourself DIY options for crafty people, to renting, to some ready-to-buy options directly from the manufacturers available for shipping from different countries.

This post contains affiliate links, which means we may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. This helps us continue the hard work we put into researching products and solutions.


1)  DIY Christmas Tree Ideas

If you need a new Christmas tree, you can also attempt to make one with what you have already:

  • make a tree out of a wooden step ladder and a few decorations (The video below will show you how easy it is! Or you can find more ideas on Pinterest)
  • make one out of recycled bottles
  • decorate an indoor or an outdoor plant



2)  Rent a Tree

Renting a Christmas tree has become more popular in recent years and we like the idea of sharing resources as it’s one of the main principles of a well-functioning circular economy. Use can use a tree rental service to:

  • rent an artificial decorated Christmas tree for example for an office or commercial environment or
  • rent a living potted Christmas tree that can be returned after use.

With nothing going to waste, these options are environmentally friendly ways to bring the spirit of Christmas to your office or home. After the holidays, the trees grown in Christmas tree plantations return to their forest nursery, where they continue to be nurtured and produce oxygen, contribute to the ecosystem, and serve as wildlife habitat.


3) One, Two, Three Eco-friendly Wooden Christmas Tree 

OneTwoThree Designs Wooden Eco-friendly Christmas Tree

One Two Tree offers an eco-friendly wooden Christmas tree handcrafted in Australia, that can be a stylish alternative to the traditional Xmas trees. Its versatile, contemporary design makes it easy to fit in a modern living space as well as a children’s play space. Putting it together is as easy as One Two Tree and getting it back to storage even more! Minimalism at its finest!

Materials: Australian hoop pine plywood, Tasmanian oak, plywood, timber

Ships from: Australia

Visit the Etsy store.


4) LakaLuka Nordic Design Laser Cut Wooden Spruce Christmas Tree

LakaLuka Nordic Design Wooden Spruce Christmas Tree

This tree is cut from 100% natural birch wood. It consists of some pieces that are easily assembled with included instructions. After Christmas you can store it flat under the bed or wherever you want without using much space. Then you can put it back together next year to use it again! Adding Christmas lighting makes it more beautiful as it glows beautifully in the dark.

Materials: 100% natural birch wood

Ships from: Greece

Visit the Etsy store.


Related: 9 Best Plastic Free Christmas Crackers for an Eco-Friendly Festive Season


5) It’s a Green Tree – Alberello Reusable Christmas Tree

It's a Green Tree - The Alberobello Sustainable Christmas Tree

It’s a Green Tree designed the Alberello in Brooklyn, New York because they were tired of seeing abandoned Christmas Trees on the sidewalks after the holidays. The Alberello is an elegant, sustainable, reusable holiday tree that arrives in a flat-pack and can be stored in the same box to be used again every year. It doesn’t have any disposable packaging making it a truly zero-waste Christmas decoration!  It comes with everything you need to hang it from your ceiling, or you can also use a stand as shown on their website. A unique design and decoration that is has been patented in the USA and Europe.

Material: plywood

Ships from: the US or the UK

Visit the Etsy store


6) Yelka Tree Wooden Christmas Tree

Yelka Sustainable Wooden Christmas Tree

The Yelka Tree is minimal, modern and sustainable. The tree is very easy to assemble but also stable, so your cat won’t be able to knock it down. You don’t have to water it and it doesn’t shed any needles.
It takes up little space when the branches are arranged in one direction, or you can arrange the branches as you wish in all directions. When the festivities are over, you can easily disassemble it and store it until next Christmas in the box that came with it

Material: walnut, oak, maple, wood, wooden, steel, metal, wood oil, powder coat, jet black, pure white, pastel green, linseed oil

The branches are made of maple, that is sustainably forested and grown in Slovenia. The branches are finished with a couple of coats of oil to give the tree a nice and warm feeling. The trunk is a steel rod and the base a steel cross. The steel is painted with a powder coating process which is the most environmentally friendly type of coating and the finish is tougher than conventional paint.

Ships from: Slovenia

Visit the Etsy store


7) Tahni Designs Steam-Beached Wood Christmas Tree

Tahni Designs Plastic-free Christmas Tree

This Christmas tree design will make your Christmas celebrations special by building a dazzling ambiance. Every tree is handcrafted from start to finish from ethically sourced steam-beached wood. It’s available in different sizes from 2 to 4 feet.

Material: steam beach wood

Ships from: India

Visit the Etsy store


Related: Zero Waste Cooking: A Simple Guide to Eliminating Food Waste.


8)  67Wood Wooden Christmas Tree 

67Wood Sustainable Alternative Christmas Tree

If you enjoy the tradition of decorating your tree with your family, thanks to the carefully thought out design this tree can be as decorative or as minimal as you like.

The small notches in the edges of the “branches” can be used to hang decorations or hook on some lights.

The wood is lightly sanded and there is no finish on it, so it can be painted, waxed, oiled or just left in its beautiful raw form.

The tree consists of two parts that simply slot together, which makes the assembly very straight forward.
It will be posted in a very sturdy slimline box which could be used for future storage of your tree once the holiday season is over.

Material: plywood

Ships from: Tuerkiye

Visit the Etsy Store


9)  Personalized Wall Hanging Christmas Tree

Personalized Wall Hanging Christmas Tree

This handmade wooden Christmas Decor is carefully carved from recycled wood and it displays perfectly as a personalized wall-hanging Christmas decoration that you can further adorn according to your taste.

Material: driftwood

Ships from: Australia

Visit the Etsy Store


Conclusion: A Summary of the Alternatives to Christmas Trees for Your Festive Season

Overall, these are our recommendations:

  • first: utilize what you have already, as long as you can
  • second: buy second-hand, or rent a Christmas tree or buy one that can be replanted after the festivities, and
  • third: be creative by adopting some of the DIY options we provided in this article or if you want something stylish and minimalistic that you’ll cherish forever buy one of the wooden Christmas trees we recommended above.

Whatever you decide, the most important thing to remember is not to buy a new plastic tree in line with a plastic-free Christmas! Also, you don’t need to buy new plastic baubles and tinsel, try to see if you can find some secondhand decorations or some made of other materials.


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