Posted on November 22 2019
There are only a few weeks left until Christmas and the preparations for the Feast of Joy are already in full swing. Delicious Christmas biscuits and hopefully a lot of snow provide the perfect ambience – but the joyfully decorated tree is a must, right? But how sustainable are our Christmas trees?
How the most beautiful Christmas symbol can become more sustainable
Christmas is just around the corner, and with it the anticipation of the festivities – including the decoration of the house. The Christmas tree is a beloved central component. As children we looked forward to setting up and decorating the tree, and as adults we would like to give our children the same pleasure. Not to mention how much light and colour the decorated tree brings into the house during the coldest months. But is the Christmas tree even a Christian symbol?
Where does the tradition of decorating the tree come from?
The Christmas tree, that will surprise few, is not Christian – well, it does not appear in the Bible either! Like many "Christian" symbols, it is borrowed from pagan but extremely popular tradition. In this case, the evergreen of the conifers is a symbol of the continuity and regenerative power of nature in a season when everything is buried under the snow outside. The fresh green indicates the coming spring. It is a beautiful symbol that can easily be linked to the resurrection promise of Christianity. Unfortunately, the "trees of life" are consumed mercilessly all over the world.
Where does our Christmas tree grow?
The fir tree that we decorate for the feast is a consumer good like many others. Christmas trees are grown in plantations which are extensive monocultures. The young trees grow for several years under their "peers". Once they have reached the desired size, they are deforested, sold, decorated – and thrown away after a few days. In view of the threat to the world's forests, this is a practice that is becoming increasingly dubious and is making many people question the joy of the decorated tree. Fortunately, there is another way. With alternative Christmas trees.
The sustainable alternatives to deforested fir trees
Those who no longer want to fall back on a short-lived and then "used up" tree fortunately have many possibilities. These include bouquets or flower arrangements made of fir branches or other coniferous woods from the living tree, which can be removed without damage. Their advantage: they carry the pine scent of the Christmas season into the living room.
It can even be a whole tree – but with roots. Whether you buy or rent the pot fir is another question. It has long been possible to rent living trees elsewhere, but they are only spreading slowly in Europe. Who has a garden, is lucky, because then one can decorate the garden fir in front of the living room window and enjoy every year anew a growing, vital tree.
City dwellers without a garden do not have this opportunity. You can also consider artificial trees. There are pretty, realistic plastic firs that can be folded up after use and stowed until the next time. Well, plastic... but still better than having a fir tree on your conscience every year. After all, the festive polymer trees last forever.
Alternatively, you can use artificial trees from the designer. Made of sustainable wood, stainless steel or wrought iron, they are often attractive, even if they are more for friends of minimalist furnishings.
And if you want to refuse consumption altogether, you can also decorate your living room plant – everything has already been done, for example in Australia, where a decorated eucalyptus wrote record history as the "world's largest Christmas tree". There's always more than one way to bring a festive glow to your home. Even without cutting down a tree.
Christmas tree: Real or artificial? Or none at all?
As you can see, you can make your home cosy for Christmas, sustainable and still beautiful. How your own festive decorations turn out is always a matter of taste. You don't necessarily have to do without fir branches and needle scent, and in case of doubt a reusable plastic tree is better than 15 or 20 felled fir trees. How far you want to go with the responsible design of Christmas is up to the individual.
We at NIKIN want to give ideas. Although we are primarily concerned with sustainable materials for the fashion industry, it is important for us to make a contribution in the fight against global deforestation. That's why we want to motivate our customers to rethink their lifestyles and possibly make them more sustainable – even at Christmas. With this in mind: Merry Christmas!