With the holiday season upon us, seeking out ways to minimize our ecological footprint may not always be at the top of mind; however, the season of giving and cheer is a great time to continue to maintain our eco-consciousness.

The debate about live and artificial trees has been settled – it is more eco-friendly to bring a live tree into your home for the holidays. Live trees are free of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) which is the “grinchiest” plastic and is used to make most artificial trees. The footprint of manufacturing a fake tree is much larger than that of a tree that is cut down from a farm or otherwise. Just think about all of the carbon that tree sequestered in its lifetime…and how the cycle will continue as new trees are planted to provide Christmas trees year after year! Other benefits of having a live tree in your home include indoor forest bathing! They smell amazing and breathing in natural phytoncides (wood essential oils) can boost health. It is also proven that contact with nature reduces stress and blood sugar levels – so channel your inner lumberjack and bring a live tree into your home for the holidays! Buying local and supporting farms that reduce or don’t use pesticides and herbicides are also good things to consider whether you cut your own tree, or buy it pre-cut.

Other ideas for eco-friendly Christmas trees include adding an indoor potted pine (Norfolk Island pine) to your home decor year round! The bonus is you can decorate it for the holidays. You can also rent a potted tree if you aren’t interested in keeping it year-round. If you have a lot of space, you can start a Christmas tree forest and bring a potted tree indoors for a week (two max), water it generously and then return it outdoors until the spring thaw, and then plant it.

When your Christmas tree has filled its holiday destiny, be sure to dispose of it responsibly. Many wildlife shelters accept old Christmas trees as habitat for animals that are undergoing rehabilitation. You can also look into recycling programs within your community that offer curbside pickup and use the trees as mulch for community gardens and trails.

If you’d like to avoid the traditional tree altogether, you could DIY and make a tree from items you already own – books, newspaper, metal coat hangers, etc. Let your imagination and creativity run wild!

Go green for the holidays – and minimize your footprint!