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Alternatives to a Christmas Tree: A Greener Christmas

By Marjory Blare, Master Gardener

How many times have you seen dead, dry Christmas trees next to the road? Sometimes they just stay there, sometimes the city picks them up. But there are greener alternatives. Read on for some creative ideas.

Alternatives to a Christmas Tree:  A Greener Christmas


Some 95 million Americans decorate their homes for Christmas, of those, almost 80 % opt for artificial trees. Most artificial trees are made in China of chemical-laden plastics. The Natural Resources Defense Council estimates that you would need to use an artificial tree for 20 years to offset its eco-impact.


There is a growing trend towards renting a live tree. Right now, it is centered mostly on the west coast, but, if enough people express an interest in it, the idea may catch on here. The idea is that you rent a live tree grown in a pot. At the end of the season, you return the tree, and then it is grown on in a climate-controlled environment and rented out for the next season. A tree can be rented out for 7-10 years, whereupon it will be planted to grow and improve the environment.



Although not all of these suggestions are totally “green,” here are some creative ways that Minnesotans can decorate for the holidays:


HGTV has a list of 40 alternatives, including a chalkboard tree, a string tree and a flowerpot tree.



Look at Homes and Gardens take on decorating ideas, including a keepsake tree and a tree made from books. Or, how about Real Homes ideas including a step ladder tree, a firewood tree and a painted peg board tree.



Martha Stewart has a list of alternatives including a dowel tree and a twig tree.

 how to decorate and care for a Norfolk Island Pine.


Please consider some of these alternatives if you are in the market for a new Christmas approach.

Photo credits: (1), Theodora Sanford, Hennepin County (2), Katherine Bjorndahl, Le Sueur County (3), Renee Miller West St. Paul (4)

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