Upcycled, recycled, reused eco-friendly Christmas trees are a sustainable alternative to chopping down a living tree, or buying a tree that’s been chopped down and shipped to you.
Christmas tree farms are a classic example of monoculture, where a single crop is cultivated in a wide area. Row after row of similar trees does not make for a healthy, diversified ecosystem. In order to keep trees healthy, most Christmas tree farmers use pesticides.
After Christmas, millions of trees are thrown away. Some cities, like Seattle, take trees left curbside directly to a compost facility. In other cities, like Pittsburgh, residents must take trees to a designated drop-off location. These recycled trees are chipped into mulch, burned for fuel, some even end up as marine habitat. But every area has tree pickup—many end up in landfills.
New plastic Christmas trees can be reused, but will eventually end up in the landfill too. So consider making your tree from materials that have already been used, or that you already have. Get creative!
Tree-Cycle, The Rocks, Sydney.
100 bikes that were on there way to be recycled take a pose as a Christmas tree before their ultimate destined meltdown. The frames were painted green, the wheels multi colors. The top of the tree is comprised of front forks and tires. Source
CD Christmas Tree
with tape blanket
by Tom Deninger for Chelsea Market, 2010
Haifa, Israel. Ernest and Hadas Itzcovitch used 5480 recycled plastic bottles to build this Christmas tree, with the intent to raise awareness of our need to be more diligent recyclers. Source
Eden Project in Cornwall, UK.
The tree is made entirely of recycled materials – including 22,500 plastic bags.
The top angel is made from cling wrap and milk bottles. Source
Plastic bottle tree, New Market Calcutta, India. Flickr photo by alipta.
Designpack plastic bottle trees, Paris. The DesignPack Gallery is dedicated to the art packaging. They sell a cardboard version of the above tree – save your green bottles. www.designpackgallery.fr
Plastic Bottle tree, Paris, as above. Source
Plastic Bottle Christmas Tree
by Jolanta Smidtienė of Kaunas, Lithuania.
13-meters tall and made from nearly 40,000 recycled green bottles and zip ties.
Plastic bottle tree. People pedal to produce enough energy to light up the eco-friendly Christmas tree set up at the Basilica de San Francisco explanade in La Paz, Bolivia. The 45 foot tree was made with roughly 50,000 plastic bottles. teakdoor.com
The Rock, Sydney, Australia, 2009. Flickr photo by Gdanny.
Soda can Christmas tree. Note milk jug on top. Source + instructions.
Shopping Cart Tree – as below. Looks better at night. Flickr photo by danieljsf.
The 14th annual shopping cart Christmas tree near Santa Monica. 33 feet tall, 86 shopping carts. Designer: www.shoppingcarttree.com
Hub Cap Christmas Tree, Arundel, Maine.
This tutorial shows how to make a tree out of a pallet. You’ll need basic power tools.
Karen Clouston of Alberta, Canada, made this Christmas tree from poplar and willow branches wired to an upside-down tomato cage. Most of the decorations were made from orange slices, nuts, pine cones and scrap cardboard. The garlands are raffia and the tree skirt is heavy brown paper. Thanks Karen, can’t wait to see next year’s!
Bamboo Christmas tree in Tokyo, Japan. 8 meters high, based on the fibonacci sequence. Source
Plastic bottle Christmas Tree, this one arranged with abandon. Flickr photo by Suzuran ranran.
This majestic Portuguese tree is made up of all sorts of plastic discards. Flickr photo by Kuyshi.
Lobster Pot Christmas Tree, Maine. Buoys, too.
Plastic Bag Christmas Tree in South Korea. Source
The greenest – just decorate your ladder.
Book Christmas Tree
by Frederico Uribe.
Book Light Christmas Tree
San Francisco Library’s Christmas tree. Note the little figures standing on the books. You’ll even burn some calories constructing and deconstructing this one. Source.
This tree is easy to take down. And it cuts down on noise pollution.
Another plastic bottle Christmas Tree. Bottles tilt down. Flickr photo by cathepsut.
A 60ft LED tree illumined Dublin’s skyline during the 2008 winter season.
Dublin, Ireland. Source.
Ice sculpted into an 18 foot high Christmas Tree in Austria. Source.
A massive oak tree covered with spanish moss in Wilmington NC is believed to be more than 400 years old. It has been continuously decorated and lit since 1928. Source.
Stacked chairs tree, The Rocks at Sydney, 2008. Source.
Book Christmas Tree