The next big thing: a sustainable Christmas tree  Inspiration   The next big thing: a sustainable Christmas tree

The next big thing: a sustainable Christmas tree

Ever since I was a little girl, we had a plastic Christmas tree. Furthermore, since we lived in USSR and were half Jewish, the Christmas tree was called “The New Year Tree”. It was majestic: thick soft emerald pine needles on plastic branches with Santa and his granddaughter occupying the place of honor at the foot of the tree. The Santa was called “Ded Moroz” (Grandfather Frost) and granddaughter – “Snegurochka” (Snow Maiden). To me, there was no tree lovelier than ours. Every Year my dad would kick me out of the living room so that he could “go to the forest and cut the tree”. To this day, (I’m almost 40 years old) my dad still insists that it’s a real tree he cuts in real woods. It’s plastic. With plastic branches and metal rods. But it’s sweet, it’s a tradition.

the christmas tree at our russian pre-school

1984. The New Year celebrations at my pre-school in Minsk. This is a theater production where I’m playing a fox. If you look carefully in the back, you will see Ded Moroz and Snegurochka under the tree.

Christmas tree in my pre-school in Minsk

1985. Last year in the pre-school. It was a tradition for all the children to dress up in costumes during the New Year school celebrations…a sort of carnival. The Christmas trees in public places were always real, very large and beautifully decorated.

our plastic cristmas tree

1995. Our plastic beauty has traveled with us all the way to Israel. The table is ready for the New Year celebrations, with all the traditional dishes proudly presented. We would start eating and drinking around 10pm, drink champagne at midnight and then give each other presents. 

my family, New Year in israel

1997. My parents and grandma. Grandpa is taking the picture. I have already left Israel. I haven’t celebrated New Year with my family for 20 years… maybe it’s time to join them for the New Year again?

Now, having my own family means starting my own traditions. We felt strongly about having a real Christmas tree: it smells good, looks better and is free from the harmful PVC chemicals and lead. On the other hand, it feels wrong to have a corpse of a tree slowly decomposing in the middle of my house. Is there an even “greener” alternative to a cut tree? Yes, there is: an organic sustainable Christmas tree you can adopt. Let me explain:

You choose a tree

We accidentally stumbled across this site:, which literally means: “adopt a Christmas tree”. The “adoption” process turned out to be very simple: You choose from the list of pick up points, go to your chosen location and choose your tree. All the trees are grown organically on local farms.

We were in luck, as one of the two Amsterdam “adoption” spots is located a mere 15 min walk from our house. Hello sustainability… no driving whatsoever!

The pickup point is divided into 2 parts: new trees and previously adopted trees (year after year you will have your own sustainable Christmas tree for the holidays). As this was our first time we went to the “new tree” part to select a tree that will be ours.

You adopt a tree

After we chose the loveliest tree on the lot, it was given a number and logged into the “adopteereenkerstboom” system, and then we gave it a name. (George… in case you were wondering!). The trees are categorized by size, which reflects on the price of the tree. We found the prices surprisingly reasonable.

You take care of your tree

We took George home. This is the plan for his near future: we enjoy our beautiful tree until about the second week of January. Then we’ll return him to “adopteereenkerstboom”, who will plant it back on the forest farm, about 40 min drive from Amsterdam. There George will enjoy a year outside, in the forest with all the birds and animals around him… Until the next Christmas.

You visit your tree

Christmas blues in the summer? Not to worry, you can visit your tree on the farm. How great will it be to grab a few Christmas decorations, a picnic and visit George in the summer?

I made a little movie about meeting George, the Christmas tree on my phone.

What are your Christmas tree plans this year? Do you have a tree adoption service in your hometown?

  • Neely Moldovan
    December 13, 2017

    What a cool idea!

    • Victoria Onken
      December 13, 2017

      Thank you, Neely!

  • Sam
    December 13, 2017

    Nice tips and tricks for a sustainable holiday!

    • Victoria Onken
      December 14, 2017

      Thank you, Sam!

  • December 13, 2017

    I love this idea, and I’ve never heard of it before. Love your name for the tree.



Want latest sustainable fashion news right into your inbox?

xx Victoria