Around 30 million Christmas trees are sold in the U.S. annually according to the National Christmas Tree Association (NCTA), an organization that represents Christmas tree growers. Unfortunately, just 69 percent are recycled into mulch. I’ve unhappily observed too many dumpster-abandoned trees in the city. (And in case you’re wondering where to do just that, click here.) But now there’s The Living Christmas Company (TLCC), a Redondo Beach-based group that rents out locally-grown varieties of living Christmas trees as an environmentally-conscious and convenient alternative to cut or artificial trees.
This year, TLCC officially launches as the largest Christmas tree rental company – including being the first to rent, own and grow its own trees – in the country. “Our mission to redefine the way California celebrates the holidays goes beyond just saving a tree – we are working to create sustainable and regenerative solutions that we can pass down to future generations,” says TLCC founder and CEO Scott Martin aka Scotty Claus. After working in a nursery, Martin, playfully named Scotty Claus by friends and clients for delivering Christmas trees, wondered if the same idea would work with giving out live trees. It was sad to see those Christmas trees kicked to the curb just weeks after the holidays, according to Mr. Claus.
TLCC trees are delivered by biodiesel truck (local routes only) and returned to the nursery after the season’s end to be maintained until next year.
And don’t be fooled. Despite arguments that say artificial trees are better for the environment since cutting trees is avoided altogether, phony firs can actually contain petroleum-based materials like polyvinyl chloride (PVC), emitting toxic chemicals like lead dust. In fact, the 85 percent that do come from China are required by California Proposition 65 to have a warning label. “The embodied energy in an artificial tree is immense – creating PVC or even polyurethane is a messy, energy intensive process,” adds Martin. “You might be ‘saving’ a tree for six to seven years, but you are also burdening the planet with a tree that won’t decompose for millennia.”
And ever wondered what inspired those fake brush-like trees? One of the first artificial trees created in the 1930s was by Addis Brush Company, which used the same machinery to make toilet brushes.
NCTA, the same group that donates a tree to the White House’s Blue Room, furthers that on average, an artificial tree is used only six to nine years before it’s tossed to the landfill where it might sit for centuries before decomposing.
“The general public is considering the source, process and disposal of products they purchase – and we are challenging them to re-evaluate and re-shape their traditions, one tree at a time,” says Martin. It’s TLCC’s hope that Angelenos will not only realize the environmental impact from annually discarding these live trees, which take several years to grow, but be able to do something about it. Definitely good planet-karma, considering as Martin puts it, “that even Santa can’t just snap his fingers and grow 7-inch trees.”
Location: The Living Christmas Company, 800 S. Pacific Coast Hwy #443 Redondo Beach, CA 90277 Web: www.livingchristmas.com
Images courtesy of The Living Christmas Company.