Why Kill a Conifer? Rent a Living Christmas Tree

Dec 3, 2010
Megan Bedard is a sucker for sustainable agriculture and a good farmers market, she likes writing about food almost as much as eating it.
Scott Martin, a.k.a. "Scotty Claus," on his Christmas tree rental lot. (Photo: Michael Merrington)

One of the most depressing sights of the holiday season is row upon row of soggy brown evergreens lining residential gutters the week after Christmas.

But wait! (Cue fanfare and smiling Whos in Whoville...)  If you're living in Southern California, there's no need to contribute to the January 2nd Christmas-tree graveyard.

You can rent a tree from The Living Christmas Company. It sounds crazy, but then, so does throwing away an estimated 34 million trees each year.

When you order a living tree, the Living Christmas Co. folks drop a live, potted Aleppo Pine, Blue Cedar, Leylandi Cypress, Little Sequoia, or Monterey Pine at your doorstep.

Scott Martin, known to Christmas-tree lovers as "Scotty Claus," is the anti-Grinch behind this new venture into sustainable holidays. A landscape architect by vocation, Martin launched the Living Christmas Tree Company in 2008 after years of gifting friends and clients living trees and receiving rave reviews. The goal? To redefine holiday traditions to include regenerative solutions that can be passed down to future generations.

"Delivering trees is absolutely the most fun job you can have as a teenager," Martin tells TakePart. "Everyone is happy to see you, and the arrival of the tree symbolizes the beginning of Christmas in the home. But I would see the same tree just weeks after, tossed to the curb. Having worked in a nursery with potted trees, I knew there had to be a better way."

Christmas trees, growing happy and healthy, living to see another holiday. (Photo: Michael Merrington)

The Living Christmas Tree better way means delivering a living holiday tree and returning after the tinsel has come down to take the tree back to the nursery where it continues to grow.

After about seven years, when the trees have grown too large to rent, they're donated to a tree-planting organization or become part of an Urban Reforestation Project.

So which would you rather see? Row upon row of never-again-green holiday casualties? Or your annual family trees planted in nature, where they can grow into big, beautiful conifers?

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