Upcycled, recycled, reused eco-friendly Christmas trees are a sustainable alternative to chopping down a living tree or buying a tree that’s been chopped down and shipped to you.
Christmas tree farms are a classic example of monoculture, where a single crop is cultivated in a wide area. Row after row of similar trees does not make for a healthy, diversified ecosystem. In order to keep trees healthy, most Christmas tree farmers use pesticides.
After Christmas, millions of trees are thrown away. Some cities, like Seattle, take trees left curbside directly to a compost facility. In other cities, like Pittsburgh, residents must take trees to a designated drop-off location. These recycled trees are chipped into mulch, burned for fuel, some even end up as a marine habitat. But not every area has tree pickup—many trees end up in landfills.
New plastic Christmas trees can be reused, but will eventually end up in the landfill too. So consider making your tree from materials that have already been used, or that you already have. Get creative! Here are a few of our favorite eco-friendly Christmas trees to give you some inspiration.
Tree-Cycle, The Rocks, Sydney
100 bikes that were on their way to be recycled take a pose as a Christmas tree before their ultimate destined meltdown. The frames were painted green, the wheels multi colors. The top of the tree is comprised of front forks and tires. Originally Sourced from Gearlog.com
CD Christmas Tree With Tape Blanket
By Tom Deininger for Chelsea Market, 2010. Source
Recycle Plastic Bottle Tree in Haifa, Israel
Ernest and Hadas Itzcovitch used 5480 recycled plastic bottles to build this Christmas tree, with the intent to raise awareness of why we need to be more diligent recyclers. Originally sourced from photoblog.msnbc.msn.com. Source
Simple Wall Christmas Tree
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Perhaps you live in an apartment or a tiny home, and there isn’t much in the way of floor space. This wall-mounted Christmas tree is simply charming! It can be created with all found materials and won’t take up any of that precious square footage.
Eden Project in Cornwall, UK.
The tree is made entirely of recycled materials – including 22,500 plastic bags. The top angel is made from cling wrap and milk bottles. Originally sourced from news.sky.com
Plastic Bottle Tree In New Market Calcutta, India
Plastic bottle tree, New Market Calcutta, India. Flickr photo by alipta.
Designpack Plastic Bottle Trees, Paris
And here is the plastic bottle tree during the day in Paris. Source
Green Plastic Bottle Christmas Tree
Created by Jolanta Smidtienė of Kaunas, Lithuania, this eco-friendly tree is 13 meters tall and made from nearly 40,000 recycled green bottles and zip ties. Source
Coconut Christmas Tree
While you may not be able to accomplish this look in all parts of the world, it’s quite a unique idea! And when Christmas is over, you’ve got plenty of tasty coconut water to enjoy!
Plastic Bottle Christmas Tree In Bolivia
Plastic bottle tree. People pedal to produce enough energy to light up the eco-friendly Christmas tree set up at the Basilica de San Francisco explanade in La Paz, Bolivia. The 45-foot tree was made with roughly 50,000 plastic bottles. Source
Eco-Friendly Christmas Tree In Sydney, Australia
The Rock, Sydney, Australia, 2009. Flickr photo by Gdanny.
Soda Can Christmas Tree
Shopping Cart Tree
The 14th annual shopping cart Christmas tree near Santa Monica. 33 feet tall, 86 shopping carts. Source
This shopping cart tree in Santa Monica, California looks even better at night.
Hub Cap Christmas Tree
Hub Cap Christmas Tree, Arundel, Maine. Source
Pallet Christmas Tree
This tutorial shows how to make a tree out of a pallet. You’ll need basic power tools.
Poplar And Willow Branch Tree
Karen Clouston of Alberta, Canada, made this Christmas tree from poplar and willow branches wired to an upside-down tomato cage. Most of the decorations were made from orange slices, nuts, pine cones, and scrap cardboard. The garlands are raffia and the tree skirt is heavy brown paper. Thanks, Karen, can’t wait to see next year’s!
Bamboo Christmas Tree
Minimalist Wall Christmas Tree
For an entirely new take on an eco-friendly Christmas tree, check out this wall-mounted option made out of aluminum molds! Minimalist, colorful, and it will still get you in the Christmas spirit!
Plastic Bottle Christmas Tree
Plastic bottle Christmas Tree, this one arranged with abandon. Source
Discarded Plastic Christmas Tree
This majestic Portuguese tree is made up of all sorts of plastic discards. Flickr photo by Kuyshi.
Lobster Pot Christmas Tree
Lobster Pot Christmas Tree in Rockland, Maine. It features buoys, too!
Plastic Bag Christmas Tree
Plastic Bag Christmas Tree in South Korea. Source
The greenest – just decorate your ladder.
Book Christmas Tree
Book Christmas Tree by Frederico Uribe.
Book Light Christmas Tree
Book Light Christmas Tree by Nathan Bush on Tumblr. Source
San Francisco Library’s Christmas Tree
San Francisco Library’s Christmas tree. Note the little figures standing on the books. You’ll even burn some calories constructing and deconstructing this one. Source.
This tree is easy to take down. And it cuts down on noise pollution.
Tilted Plastic Bottle Tree
Another plastic bottle Christmas Tree. Bottles tilt down. Flickr photo by cathepsut.
LED Tree In Dublin
This eco-friendly Christmas tree calls Dublin, Ireland home. At 60 feet tall, this tree is illumined by LED lights and could be seen on Dublin’s skyline during the 2008 winter season. Photo originally sourced from NowPublic.
Reclaimed Material Christmas Tree
Talk about taking reclaimed to a whole other level! This eco-friendly Christmas tree is made out of a tire, a bucket, and nearly 40 feet of PVC pipe! Scroll to see the details up close!
Sculpted Ice Christmas Tree
Ice sculpted into an 18 foot high Christmas Tree in Austria. Source.
Spanish Moss Christmas Tree
A massive oak tree covered with Spanish moss in Wilmington NC is believed to be more than 400 years old. It has been continuously decorated and lit since 1928. Originally sourced from Kay Baker on Trulia.
Editor note: In 2012, the city voted to move the tree lighting ceremony elsewhere, so as of 2015, this tree is no longer lit each holiday season. Instead, a new tree has been given the honor of continuing the tradition.
Stacked Chairs Tree
Stacked chairs tree, The Rocks at Sydney, 2008. Originally sourced from TravelPod
Mini Book Christmas Tree
Book Christmas Tree. Originally source from Real Simple