Last night my family met for one of my favourite holiday traditions – putting up the Christmas tree! Over the years as we have moved apartments and countries, our Christmas tree has taken on many different forms: the reusable artificial tree of my childhood, a small bonzai tree in our cozy one-room apartment, a paper tree made from an old White Pages book, a wood-carved tree bought at a German Christmas market and the Lilly Pilly Tree in our backyard.

Whilst the Christmas tree is a key symbol in many households to mark the beginning of the festive season – it is also important to consider the impact your Christmas tree has at the end of the season. Many of us, whether it is due to travel or simply the fact that our Christmas tree is looking a little old and tired will throw it away in the rubbish bin. Although natural Christmas trees can be recycled and chipped to become mulch, artificial trees typically made of non-degradable metal and hard plastic, will celebrate Christmas in the landfill for centuries to come.

So, does that mean we should all convert to natural Christmas trees?

Well this debate is not exactly clear cut and depends on what criteria we use for the analysis. For example, a study from the US indicated that if you keep an artificial tree for more than 4 years, the global warming potential associated with your artificial tree will be less than purchasing and composting a new natural tree each year. At the crux of this debate is the call to reframe the modern Christmas tree. Instead of a single-use one season wonder, how can we create a flexible Christmas tree that both respects tradition and minimises environmental impacts?

On Day 2 of our Reframing Waste advent journey we will explore options for Christmas trees to emerge from:

  • Every-day household items;
  • Plants in our garden;
  • Even the contents of our recycling bins!

We’ve also identified opportunities to utilise Christmas decoration share platforms and rental schemes. Reframing your “Christmas tree” can be convenient, affordable and approachable for to you and your family to enjoy and celebrate this Christmas.

Consider a pre-loved Christmas Tree:

Instead of purchasing a brand-new tree this year, visit your local op shop or Gumtree online to check out the wide range of pre-loved Christmas trees on offer in your local area. On Friday, during market research for one of our upcoming posts, Liz was at a St Veronica’s Thrift Shop in West End and saw this gorgeous tree, pre-decorated available for $25! At that price, it’s sure not to last long!

Hire a Christmas Tree:

Instead of purchasing a Christmas tree this year, why not rent one? This is especially useful if you live in an apartment with not much storage space and gives you the opportunity to change the design each year. Recently there has been an increase in the generation of enterprises for sharing tools and household items that are used infrequently, and they can offer membership for a rate per year and allow for the hire of many different items across the year, which is a great bang for your buck, if you’re on a budget! In particular, there are a number of companies around Australia offering this service with ready-made Christmas tree packages or the opportunity to create your own custom made these include:

  • Christmas Tree Hire – provide artificial decorated Christmas trees, covering most of the Sydney area and the East Coast up to Brisbane CBD. They also service outside of the Christmas holiday period!  
  • Brisbane Tool Library – are based in Southbank, Brisbane and provide a membership system for accessing a variety of goods.
  • The Happy Christmas Co – have trees that come in all shapes and sizes for both home use and retail business spaces. They can provide their trees in Melbourne and Geelong, Victoria.

Virtual Christmas Tree:

No space for a tree? Have pets that destroy trees? Well a virtual tree that you can display on an electronic device might be your answer this Christmas! There are millions of images online as well as sites where you can customise your design to suit your taste and style of your household. Check out your favourite App store for more!  

Sample of Xmas Tree HD App provided by LeiMobile

Every Plant secretly wants to be a Christmas Tree!

Every plant, big or small has Christmas tree potential. Instead of purchasing a special tree, decorate the plants or garden spaces that you already have in your house and garden! For an outside area, adding a few festive decorations will create that special ambience. Whilst, for an indoor plant, simply placing your wrapped Christmas presents for your family and friends around it will create that vibrance and feel-good nature of the holidays that a traditional Christmas tree typically offers.

A little really does go a long way as you can see from the examples that we’ve sourced below:  

Alternative Christmas Trees:

Out of all of the options that we have presented today, this is the one that really stunned me with the amount of creativity, ingenuity and character that each of these alternative Christmas trees display. We’ve recapped below the striking ones that caught both of our eyes, but there are many, many more out there!

Here’s our top 5 approaches to a modern, alternative Christmas tree:

1. Ladder Christmas trees:

Step one, grab the ladder from your garage or storage space. Step two find some gorgeous decorations that you love. Step three get creative with what you like, and step four pick a spot that you’d like to show off your incredible Christmas tree! Pretty simple stuff really!

2. Photographs/ Christmas Cards

Make your 2019 Christmas tree memorable through a customised collage of photographed memories of your family that you’ve collected throughout this year or even include received Christmas cards from previous years.

Here’s some creative arrangements that you could try out:

See more of Brightside’s creative ideas for 2D wall based trees!

3. Books

If your bookcases are overflowing like mine, you have lots of building blocks for a book Christmas tree! You could even get each member of your family to bring along their favourite books that they’ve read during the year and use those to personalise the tree to your families’ current interests,  showcasing a range of books that could even be shared between you as a reading list for the coming year.

WonderfulDIY has an extended post about book trees.

Another option to get creative is by utilising books that you no longer use and are replaced annually like the Yellow or White pages by making your own Folded Christmas Trees as demonstrated on YouTube by Rokolee DIY, how quaint!

4. The contents of your Recycling Bin

Thinking a little bit outside the box comes in the recycling bin Christmas Tree! Have a little rummage, collect some items over December and you could use some cracking ideas like:

  • Egg cartons
  • Shredded paper
  • Wine bottles
  • Plastic water bottles
Thirsty in Suburbia posting about water bottle trees across the world!
Recyclart has some excellent egg carton tree ideas!
View this post on Instagram

#Wine #winebottletree

A post shared by Guinevere 🌹 (@pri3stesz) on

5. Let light decorations take the shape!

There’s something unique about light and Christmas, the whole nostalgia around driving around the suburbs with your family to look at displays through the suburbs in your local town. Ever thought of bringing these beauties off a traditional tree and letting their light shine on there own? Using fairy lights or some rope, create your own Christmas light tree in no time.

Light Tree featured by Decozilla
CollectiveGen has a guide for how to assemble this fairy light tree!

Artificial Christmas Tree Disposal Options

It’s December 2nd and you’ve gone to pull out your Christmas tree to set it up and it’s looking a little bit worse for wear. What to do with your unwanted Christmas Tree? Well, here are a few alternatives to the red-bin to keep in mind to give your old Christmas tree a new lease on life.

1. Donate to Charity

2. Re-purpose into Wreaths

Try cutting the branches to create wreaths or garlands for any season. Using wire cutters, trim them to your desired length. Next, dress them up with ribbons, lights, and ornaments. Your old Christmas tree branches will add a lovely touch to your front door, mantel, or banisters.

3. Recycle the metal frame

Whilst in SEQ we don’t have the capacity to recycle the plastic from artificial Christmas trees, the metal frame whether made from copper or aluminium can be recycled. Take a look at the below link to find your local scrap metal dealer:

https://recyclingnearyou.com.au/scrap-metals/BrisbaneQLD

Share with us!

There’s certainly a lot of different opportunities to customise a Christmas tree to suit your living space that has a reduced environmental impact this year. Today’s featured image is from DIY Network, where they have a full tutorial on how to construct a Christmas tree from scrap timber.

Please share your Christmas Tree ideas – we would love to see more of your festive season!

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