While most of us are torn between getting a real tree and buying an artificial one, a new type of Christmas tree has entered the mix: rental trees.
Instead of cutting down a live tree that gets composted, mulched, or (unfortunately) trashed after the holidays, some areas of the United States now offer Christmas tree rental services. After the holidays are over, the live tree is returned to the nursery, where it continues to provide fresh air and habitats to wildlife. Cool, right?
Here’s everything you need to know about Christmas tree rental, including how it works, the availability, and the environmental impacts.
Are Christmas Tree Rental Options Eco-Friendly?
While supporting tree farmers by cutting down a live tree every year is great for the environment and the community, the downfall can be the disposal. After your tree has served its purpose, one of two things will happen: it will be repurposed or trashed.
With the correct disposal method, it can be turned into compost, mulched and used by city parks, or given a second life in local conservation efforts. With improper disposal, it can wind up in a landfill, where it releases methane—a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change.
Then there’s the artificial tree, which consists of a lot of plastic. The mass production of artificial trees generates carbon emissions, and the only way to offset those emissions is to reuse the tree for at least 10 years. However, most Americans only keep their artificial trees for about six years, which isn’t as sustainable.
Renting a real tree comes with several eco-friendly benefits, starting with being incredibly low-waste. When the holidays are over, you don’t need to worry about how to recycle your tree. With proper care, it goes back to the tree farm, where it provides fresh air to the atmosphere and offers safe habitats for wildlife. Plus, the tree can be re-rented for seven years before it gets planted in the ground in its forever home.
Where to Find Christmas Tree Rental Services (and How It Works)
Most Christmas tree rental services make the process easy, delivering the potted tree right to your door. The delivery will also come with instructions on how to care for your tree—such as when to water it and where to place it in your home—to ensure it stays healthy over the holidays. When the season’s over, the company will pick it up and return it to the farm.
Despite the growing popularity of renting trees, finding a tree rental company can still be tricky. While rental trees have become a popular choice in London and parts of Germany, the option isn’t widely available in the U.S. Right now, it’s primarily available on the West coast, with popular companies being The Living Christmas Company and Rent a Living Christmas Tree in California, and The Original Potted Christmas Tree Company in Oregon.
If you’re not on the West coast, you can still check with your local tree farm to see if there’s a rental program in place. Some independent farms offer the option, which means you won’t have to travel far to get your hands on a Christmas tree. Less travel also means fewer carbon emissions from getting the rental tree from Point A to Point B.
Hopefully Christmas tree rental is more widely available next year. Until then, here’s everything you’ll need to know about your other options.
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