“A Tree-Hugger’s Christmas” Tree

Jonathan Forani’s delightful article in the Toronto Star last Tuesday on “A Tree-Hugger’s Christmas” is the latest twist on the perennial debate: Do we have a live Christmas tree? or an artificial tree? There is now a third alternative which combines the advantages of both… rent a live Christmas tree.

Live Christmas tree types are adamant that only a real balsam, pine, spruce or fir (any of the many species available), the fresher the better, will do. In their view, only a real tree provides the appropriate atmosphere, and particularly the arboreal aroma that freshens the home throughout the season. Live Christmas tree types like the hunt for “the perfect tree,” in the woods, at a local nursery or in one of those cut-your-own-Christmas-tree farms in the countryside. Finding just the right tree may provoke considerable debate. It almost certainly requires some effort to raise it on one’s vehicle, transport it on the roof of the car, cut off the base of the trunk, mount it in the appropriate place at home, and keep it watered over the season.

Artificial tree types forego all that fuss and bother. For them, the primary attractions of a Christmas tree are the lights and decorations that add lustre to the holiday home. The essence of convenience is an artificial tree packed away in a box which can be brought out of a closet year after year. Artificial trees are available for sale from all major outlets on the internet and delivered to your home. According to Good Housekeeping, in an article entitled “The Best Artificial Christmas Trees That Will Look Great Year After Year,” most artificial trees are now “pre-lit, so you can skip the temper-fraying ritual of untangling wires and distributing lights evenly around the branches.”

In an age when the environmental utility of living trees contributing to the purification of the air is a given, the “real tree” advocates have become a little defensive. How to justify cutting down a healthy tree for use only during two or, at best, three weeks a year? The fact that the city collects the trees, chips them up, and recycles them for mulch provides some solace. At least live trees don’t end up as plastic in a landfill site. The 2000 farmers growing Christmas trees across Canada for domestic sale and export, also argue that their 70,000 acres of Christmas trees add over $125 million annually to the Canadian rural economy. But for the demand for “live” Christmas trees, those trees might never have been planted in the first place.

The third alternative, renting a tree, combines the aesthetic appeal of a live tree with the convenience of the artificial. Now that the kids have grown up and transporting a tree home from wherever is getting more difficult, the idea of renting a real tree has considerable appeal. For businesses, renting a real tree seems the perfect solution. So how does it work?

According to Forani’s article, Alfredo and Marcelo Lorenzo of the reforestation company Sapling Life based in Mississauga, offer potted-tree rentals. They have four sizes of potted white spruce trees which were grown in Langdon, Ontario, and which they will deliver to your home before Christmas and retrieve in the new year. On pickup, the trees are replanted or re-rented next year. They will provide you with instructions for watering the trees and, because the trees are not dying while in your home, they shed few needles. The rental rates range from $85.37 for the small tree to $97.37 for the extra large. Should you want to buy the tree to replant on your own property, the total costs are $145.05 to $176.39. For each tree purchased, the company will plant four small saplings as part of their reforestation campaign. Check out their webpage and see how it works. 

Apparently, a former Oakville resident Jeff Ferguson and his business partner Sean Macalister who operate Evergrow Christmas Trees Co. in Burnaby, B.C., started the idea of renting Christmas trees in 2009. Their website indicates that they are “sold out for 2016.”

So is Sapling Life. When I first read the article, renting a tree seemed like a wonderful idea. I looked up the webpage right away, and called to enquire whether the pickup date could be varied. The charming proprietor called me back, and said, “No problem.” By the time I got back onto the webpage, all the trees were “sold out.” Obviously, this is an idea which is catching on. Now that I know about this service, I will get my order in earlier next year.  

In the meantime, to those who are celebrating Christmas with whatever tree, or with none at all, Merry Christmas to you and yours.  For friends celebrating other traditions, may you enjoy all the blessings of this wonderful season of the year.

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