In our new era of striving for sustainability, it feels pretty odd that we go to all the effort of washing out our chopped tomato tin cans for the recycling and exclusively buying milk alternatives only to decide, once a year, that we should all cut down a bunch of trees to have in our living room for less than a month, then get rid of.
Something there doesn’t quite compute. But where there’s a festive problem, there’s a festive (and sustainable) solution. For instance: Did you know that fir trees can be replanted? They’re pretty hardy trees, and they can go back in the ground to live another day if you just make sure not to have them inside for too long.
This has fuelled a rise in rental Christmas tree services, where a tree is truly for life and not just for Christmas. Here’s how they work:
How does renting a Christmas tree work?
Much like buying your usual festive fir, renting a Christmas tree involves someone else chopping it down and handing it over to you - except this time you have to hand it back. It’s also not entirely unlike renting a flat, because your rental Christmas tree requires a deposit. If you successfully return your Christmas tree (and you haven’t burned it to the ground or spray painted it bright pink) you get your deposit back.
Prices vary depend on the trees size but they tend to be similar to regular Christmas tree prices (£30-60) - which is actually fine considering no one wants to keep a Christmas tree anyway, and at least this time you don’t have to feel guilty getting rid of it. Many of these rental services deliver, too, which tends to cost around £15-20, but at least you won’t have to lug a Christmas tree around London (and risk damagaing it in the process).
For many of the rental services you are also asked to water your tree every day during the period where it’s in your home, so it’s in good enough condition to be replanted when it is returned. For the same reason you’re also asked to keep it away from heat sources, so be careful not to put your fir next to the radiator or any roaring open fires.
Does it actually help the environment?
In short, yes. But there are ways to make it more and less sustainable: for example, the most sustainable option of all is to buy a local rental tree, so that the carbon footprint on your purchase is as limited as possible. There are multiple tree rental locations in London, including London Christmas Tree Rental and Christmas On The Hill.
According to Winstones, a Cotswolds based company which offers rental trees, their lifespan can reach up to eight years, which means you could be saving eight trees from being felled if you invest in a rental each year. Plus, the trees keep growing year on year. Craig Tennock from Cotswold Fir, another Cotswold based rental company, explained this process to Country Living magazine, saying: “Lots of people take the same one home every December – they even name them! They shoot up at about a foot a year, meaning families can pick one to literally grow with their children. We like to call them trees for life.”
Why is this even more important this year?
There have been concerns of Christmas tree shortages this year after the summer drought risked affecting the Christmas tree growing period.
Many rental Christmas trees are pot grown rather than grown on land, too, which gives them an added environmental bonus - pot growth is less resource-intensive than growing them on land because the grower can carefully manage the process of giving each pot the right amount of fertiliser, instead of spraying the trees en masse.
All in all, the decision to rent a tree at Christmas is pretty much a no-brainer. If you need something last minute this year, look into it. Or if you’re already feeling dread over the prospect of discarding your one-off Christmas tree this year, help assuage that guilt by committing to a rental for 2023, you’ll feel better for it.