Editor’s Note December 2017: Are you looking for something festive to place presents under? Here are ten green alternative trees that reuse and recycle. Do you have a favorite DIY tree that we missed or other holiday traditions that make your celebration more sustainable? Add them to the comments below. Happy holidays!

Now that we’ve addressed the carbon footprint question on real versus fake Christmas trees, we couldn’t help but wonder about the possibilities beyond either one of those. Some staff elves got to searching and found some pretty festive do-it-yourself (DIY) options, including some from Sightliners and their families.

No, we haven’t done carbon footprint analyses on these (if you feel so inspired, though, go to town!), but plenty of them help to divert waste from our landfills, so that’s a start!

Speaking of, the first in the DIY tree lineup could upcycle one of your broken umbrellas (all Cascadians likely have one of those, especially after recent storms) and some of those plastic bags under your sink you’ve been meaning to recycle. Check out the how-to here.

For the more e-savvy Northwest waste diverters, how about transforming some old computer components into a techy Tannenbaum? Behold: the “memory tree”… and another composed of electrical wiring, a hard disk drive motor, and SCSI ribbon cable:


Or if you have (a staggering collection of) Legos, you could try your hand at a Lego tree:

Our fellow nerds and bookworms might be especially fond of the “book tree”:

And for beachcomber Cascadians, a driftwood tree puts the “sea” in the holiday season:

For the crafty among us, this cardboard tree by Sightline senior development associate Meaghan Robbins might make a festive reuse of any cardboard you have lying around from gifts shipped cross-country:

Cardboard Christmas Tree, by Meaghan Robbins, used with permission.

Cardboard Christmas Tree by Meaghan Robbins (Used with permission.)

For the even craftier, my own mom made this macramé tree over 30 years ago. She and my dad were living in Lesotho, where the local market was understandably short on Christmas trees but long on yarn. This tree had the added benefit of hanging out of reach of my then-mischievous-toddler big sister. My mom still hangs it up today. (Retro original photo left, 2015 glamor shot right.)

Macrame Christmas tree (Lesotho, 1983), by Sara Larkin, used with permission.

Macrame Christmas tree (Lesotho, 1983) by Sara Larkin (Used with permission.)

Macrame Christmas tree (2015), by Sara Larkin, used with permission.

Macrame Christmas tree (2015) by Sara Larkin (Used with permission.)


And finally, for the short-on-time but perhaps halfway handy among us, Sightline executive director Alan Durning suggests the ladder tree, inspired by an old friend of his.

The Christmas ladder, by Alan Durning, used with permission.

The Christmas ladder by Alan Durning (Used with permission.)

Did we miss a favorite DIY tree of your own? And of course, we realize plenty of folks don’t celebrate Christmas. Do you have other holiday or seasonal traditions you observe to make your festivities more sustainable? Add them to the comments below, please, or email me about them. We’d love to collect some great ideas for next year…

In the meantime, happy holidays to all!

Natural vs artificial? Find out your Christmas tree's carbon footprint here.

December 22, 2015