What if everyone who bought a Christmas tree planted a tree for the holidays?

Expanding our appreciation for trees year-round

The Christmas tree is an iconic symbol associated with merriment. Something about the Evergreen brings loved ones together in celebration. It’s an object so sacred, we garnish it with decades of precious memories. It’s a relieving source of color after the long days of daylights savings has passed. It’s the gift that we place our gifts underneath. 

But for most of us, that’s only if it’s December. Throughout the rest of the year we are significantly less conscious of the joys and benefits trees bring us. There’s nothing wrong with including Christmas trees in our holiday season. But how strange is it that some of our most intimate moments involving trees occur in our own houses for one month with an artificial tree or cut tree?

If a Christmas tree –real or artificial– is a part of your holiday celebration, and having a tree in your house enriches your December, I invite you to expand your love for trees for many years to come. This holiday season I encourage you to plant a tree through an accredited tree planting organization. Planting trees is an environmentally sound action that makes for a profound, inexpensive holiday gift.

Planting what we cut down

Every year Christmas tree farms around the United States plant trees just so they can be cut down and look pretty in our living rooms for a month or so. In 2018, 32.8 million Christmas trees were sold in the United States, meaning over 32.8 million trees were cut down for Christmas.

While Christmas tree farming isn’t necessarily bad for the environment, it isn’t exactly beneficial for the environment either. On the other hand, planting 32.8 million trees with no intention of cutting them down has priceless environmental benefits.

The value of trees

-They increase our air quality, absorb greenhouse gasses, and provide us with cleaner oxygen

-They remove pollutants from rainwater, purifying our water supply

-They help maintain a cooler climate and help combat climate change

-They increase biodiversity, giving habitat and food to many animals and insects

Trees are not only a sight for the eyes, they provide many environmental and economic benefits. It’s hard to monetize the value of a tree, but many arborists have created calculations that determine a tree’s worth. 

According to the American Forestry Association, one single tree growing over the span of 50 years with 5% compounding interest is worth $57,151. This means that on average every tree provides $73 worth of air conditioning, $75 worth of erosion control, $75 worth of wildlife shelter, and $50 of air pollution reduction.

Different trees have different environmental impacts. Environmental Science Professor Tina Offler of University of Newcastle and New South Wales Planning Department official Bill Nethery found in a 1998 study that the oxygen output of a single Cedar and Pine equates to $120,000 per year. If these trees lived another 50 years, they would provide $6 million of oxygen individually!

For specific calculations based on tree species, click here and enter a zip code!

Why planting a tree is a meaningful gift

This time next year there will be a newer, more desirable model of the iPhone and a fashion trend that makes Gucci belts seem outdated. Trees, however, never go out of style. Trees are gifts that won’t offend anyone, violate their dietary restrictions, or sit in their closets going unworn. Even someone who says they don’t want anything for the holidays may appreciate the idea of tree being planted in honor of them. 

In addition to the timeless beauty and importance of trees, trees are extremely long-lasting gifts. As previously mentioned, trees not only never go out of style, their lifespan outlives most of the items we would consider a typical holiday gift. Shorter lasting trees have a lifespan of about 50 years–have you ever directly benefited from a holiday gift that lasted that long? Some tree species like the Chestnut Oak live up to 300 years. This holiday season, if you planted a tree with such resilience and passed away 100 years later, your gift would still be going strong, providing the same benefits for another 200 years.

Incorporating tree planting and gift giving

One Tree Planted has its Happy Treecember special where you can plant a tree for $1 in in any location of your choice, ranging from North America, Latin America, Asia, or Africa! The purchase comes in the form of a gift card, making it a perfect holiday gift!

One Tree Planted also has the same $1 per tree planting rate for specific locations in the United States, Canada, Latin America, Asia, and Africa. The gift card that comes with this purchase is less holiday oriented, but provides more options in where you want your tree to be planted, whether it be in Colorado, Ontario, Indonesia, Ghana, or the Amazon.

Through the Arbor Foundation you can give a loved one a Give-A-Tree holiday card that informs them a tree was planted on their behalf! For as little as $5.95, this holiday gift serves as a card and present that supports U.S. National Forests.

If you want to plant trees on your own behalf or want to make a difference without receiving a fancy card, The National Forest Foundation provides you with a quick online donation process through its Tree-Planting Campaign, asking for only $1 per tree.

If you want to go about planting a tree yourself, the Arbor Foundation is a great place to buy a tree and resource for tree-planting information!

Your local tree nursery would also be a great place to shop for a tree and would likely sell trees that are native to your geographic region. Depending on what tree species you like and the planting zone you live in, you may want to wait for warmer temperatures before planting your tree. If the tree species you want to plant would thrive in warmer temperatures, a gift card would make a great holiday gift.