Since setting out on this adventure of seeking to live a more simple and sustainable life, I have had to re-evaluate everything that I normally do and buy especially during the holidays. So much excess is bought during the time between Thanksgiving and New Years and so much ends up in landfills soon after. This holiday season I am thinking more about my decisions and traditions and today I am sharing with you why I chose to buy a Christmas tree and how I am still planning on protecting the planet.
For starters, I decided that having some kind of tree was really important to me because it symbolizes a time of peace, joy and love where people with all kinds of differences come together and celebrate life. I like to put mine in the window facing the busy, steep street that we live on as if to tell people passing by "Look, I'm with you. Life can be hard but at least there are Christmas trees. The people that live here love you, we want peace with you, and we want joy for you."
Buying a synthetic tree does not make sense with our lifestyle as our goal is to keep our lives simple and one of the ways we do that is by not owning a lot of things. We especially don't want to have a bunch of seasonal items that we would store for the majority of the year. Additionally, most fake trees are made out of materials that are not recyclable or biodegradable and will sit in landfills for centuries when they are finally disposed of whereas real trees can be composted. For more information on why real trees are generally better for the planet than fake, read this article by Earth911. Aside from the typical fake trees, there are some manmade ones that I would consider like this sustainable, wooden one by One Two Tree that could be left up all-year round and used to hang small things like jewelry or photos.
This year, I went the traditional route and got a small, cut one from Top Banana in Seattle. All of their trees are from local tree farms which reduces the travel distance and negative impact on the environment. Buying a tree from a farm also ensures that it will be replaced by more planted ones in the new year.
After purchasing the tree, with no stand(another seasonal thing we would have to store), I struggled to find a way to keep it standing up until I tried this white vase that I already had. It works well with rocks weighing it down in the bottom, but is not the most secure if you have curious children or animals. Next year I might buy a live, potted tree from a nursery like Swanson's that let's you donate your tree in January.
For decorations this year I was inspired by Scandinavian design, focusing on the beauty of the tree and adding simple white snowflakes that are geometric by nature. My husband and I had a night of snowflake making with homemade pumpkin spice hot chocolate using this recipe for the pumpkin spice syrup. If you forget how to make paper snowflakes like I did(so sad), Haley at Life is Sweet has some simple instructions to get you going. I just used white drawing paper and twine that I already had.
What is great about paper decorations is that you can just recycle or compost them when you take your tree down with no need to store a bunch of ornaments for the rest of the year. I used 100% cotton bakers twine for a vintage vibe that can also be composted. This black and white roll from Just Artifacts is a great option and they offer a variety of colors as well. To secure the snowflakes I used a simple bow which looks really elegant and allows the twine to be re-used for small projects later. I keep a jar of twine pieces that get used multiple times to get the most life out of them before being thrown out.
What I love most about my tree this year is that I know I didn't help hurt the planet by purchasing and decorating it. The entire tiny tree could be thrown into our compost bin with everything left on it and used to enrich the earth again. I also love how simple and clean it is and how I can appreciate the beauty of the actual tree itself without a lot of things on it.
Let me know below if you have any other simple and sustainable Christmas celebration ideas and you can find some more on my Christmas Pinterest Board. Cheers and Happy Holidays!