The Christmas tree is not only a tradition but a symbol of Christmas and a key figure in any household during the holidays. But the holiday brings one dilemma each year – artificial or a real tree?
And it’s always hard to decide. A plastic tree will last for many years and save many live trees. But it’s plastic, and that kind of negates the whole “bringing nature to our home” feeling.
On the other hand, you can have that natural feeling if you get a live tree, but if you don’t have a backyard to plant it afterward, its final destination is the landfill. And that’s a real shame.
People in London are fortunate because they don’t have to think about it anymore. If people there want a real tree but are environmentally conscious, they can rent it. The tree will be delivered to their house in a pot and returned to the wild once the holidays are over.
Twitter user Alexandra Lautarescu (@AleLautarescu) recently shared her joy and fascination with what she described as a “sustainable X-Mas gem.” She shared a photo of a roughly 6-foot Christmas tree that was delivered by the London Christmas Tree Rental.
In the post, she explained that the London Christmas Tree Rental enables people to rent a tree in a pot. After the holidays, it goes back to live on the farm, pending its next holiday season.
When the tree grows to 7ft high, it gets retired and planted in the forest. Alexandra’s tweet immediately went viral, getting more than 62,000 likes and 7.3k retweets.
The innovative rental service was founded by Jonathan Mearns and Catherine Loveless. One January, they took a walk through London's streets and saw what could only be described as a graveyard of Christmas trees—used and thrown out after the holidays.
The image was disturbing, and they thought that there must be some other way to celebrate. "We explored the rental concept, and in our research, we learned that 7 million cut trees go into landfill each year, and when they rot, they emit greenhouse gasses. The average rotting 6ft tree produces 16kg of CO2. When we realized this, we felt we had to try and make this rental idea work," Catherine Loveless, a co-founder of London Christmas Tree Rental, explained.
Customers can choose between five sizes of trees—3, 4, 5, 6, or 7 feet in height, each size very fittingly named Mr. Kensington, Miss Fulham, Mr. Westminster, Miss Islington, and Mr. Bromley appropriately. The shortest, the 3-foot Mr. Kensingon, costs £39 or just a bit over $50, and the tallest, the 6-foot Miss Islington, runs at £69 or $92 for the whole Christmas season.
“The trees have names based on London boroughs according to their size. Our smallest tree, Mr. Kensington, is because Chelsea and Westminster is the smallest borough in London. Mr. Bromley, our mighty 7 footer, is due to Bromley being the largest borough.
Miss Fulham comes in at a delightful 4ft, Mr. Westminster is our 5 footer, and Miss Islington is our 6 footer,” elaborated Catherine. “We encourage the family to give them first names so that they can welcome them into the home each Christmas. On the whole, the trees are very well behaved and make perfect house guests!”
After the season is over, you then set up a pickup time, and the company gives you back the £30 or $40 deposit (if the tree is unharmed). And if you like that tree, you can make a reservation for next season!
“All the trees are returned to the farm in January, where they are cared for till the following year. If a customer has liked their tree, then it can return to them the following year. 97% of these rollover trees survived the two heatwaves this summer and were able to return to customers this year. They become part of the family, and the customer is excited to see how much it has grown,” Catherine said.
Catherine explained that they have two delivery options—one is where a client can come to the lot and choose the tree they have paid for, but this means that the client will also need a car, and the pot is quite heavy.
The other option is to rent it blind online and to have it brought to you. This can be tricky because Christmas trees are a subjective thing.
But that’s not a problem – all the trees are beautiful. And you are making sure that your Christmas tree isn’t one of the above-mentioned 7 million that have been cut down and thrown away.
“We have a sister company, Holly Berry Trees, where Holly Berry, who is Father Christmas’s next door neighbour, posts out mini pot grown Christmas trees. These are predominantly to children and come with lights, decorations, reindeer poop (compost) and a beautifully illustrated story about life in the North Pole living next to Santa,” Catherine said.
She continued: “They are not rented, but bought. After Christmas, the child can either keep the tree in it’s pot and it can come back into the house again the following year, or they can plant it directly into the garden. It is the child’s own tree, to name and care for. It educates the child from a young age to the importance of the environment and learning to care for something living, whilst wrapped up in a magical Christmas character.”