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Santa’s wearing green this year: live recycled rent-a-trees
December 16, 2009, 8:46 pm
Filed under: Culture | Tags: ,

Tree Delivery

California landscaper Scott Martin runs The Living Christmas Co., which rents live Christmas trees for the holidays. You just pick out the tree you’d like from his website, and he delivers a potted live tree right to your home. It stays for 2-3 weeks, then he swings by again to pick it up, and it is replanted for the year—until next Christmas.

Started in response to the wastefulness of so many discarded trees lining streets after the holidays, this tree Netflix of sorts is about the same price as your usual tree, but it’s less trouble (I’m sorry, you want to wrestle a tree onto the hood of your car?), less mess (live trees don’t shed), and it makes you feel good about doing your part for the environment, returning live trees safe and sound after the season’s festivities—actually giving you a chance to make good on the compassion and goodwill the holidays are supposed to stand for. Customers can also choose to have the same tree again the next year, a little taller for its nursery hiatus. The socially conscious nature of the business plays out not only in its conservationism, but in other aspects of its business model as well. As the New York Times reports, “The delivery trucks run on biodiesel; the trees are cared for by adults with disabilities; the drivers will pick up donations for Goodwill and used wrapping paper for recycling; and the Web site also sells eco-friendly, fair-trade ornaments.”

Another interesting facet of this live tree rental model is that it brings the tree-ness back to the tree. In its continued growth from year to year, for example, it is a tree, not a cheap holiday prop. It does the things that trees do—it goes in the ground, it grows, it looks and feels and smells like a tree—not just for a few weeks while it collapses systematically into a thatch of needles on your floor, but forever. Noting how people have even taken to naming their trees (making it like a family pet, a tree-foster situation, a loving temporary custodianship—almost animistic in the “take only what you need then return it to the earth respectfully” sort of vibe), it’s cool how this strategy is putting a very fond, sentimental, and personal connection back into something that has become so depersonalized, commercialized, and emotionally distant.

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