On December 10 2020, the Facebook page “Wholesome Meets The Internet” shared an undated Twitter screenshot with information about a London Christmas tree rental company, and its purportedly sustainable model of lending out live Christmas trees:
The screenshot showed a December 5 2020 tweet by Alexandra Lautarescu (@AleLautarescu):
Lautarescu shared a photograph of a potted Christmas tree, and describing how when it was time, Christmas trees go to live on a farm (no, really):
????????Not academia related but I’m way too hyped about this sustainable Xmas gem????????
London Christmas Tree Rental lets you RENT a tree in a pot. In Jan he goes back to live on a farm (can get the same one back next year).When he reaches 7ft he “retires” & gets planted in a forest.
The tweet was highly popular; Google Trends suggested the viral posts might have caused a spike of interest in living Christmas tree rental in early December 2020.
London Christmas Tree Rental Lets You ‘Rent a Tree in a Pot’
It didn’t take long to track down the named business (London Christmas Tree Rental), the site for which is londonchristmastreerental.com.
On its “About” page, the business provided its origin story, adding that customers could “rent the same tree year on year”:
London Christmas Tree Rental was founded in 2018 by Jonathan Mearns and Catherine Loveless. It all started when walking the streets of London in January and weaving between the Christmas tree graveyards that Jonathan decided enough was enough. With 7 million trees going into landfill each year for the sake of 3 weeks of pleasure there must be a better way to do Christmas trees.
Although London Christmas Tree Rental was fully booked for 2020, the same page explained that customers could order trees and have them delivered to their doors. Trees require a pint of water daily for optimal health, and after Christmas, trees were returned to farms until the next holiday rolled around:
We will collect the tree and return it to the farm where it will live for another year. It’s possible for you to have the same tree next year just fill out the name label at the time of return.
Tree rental ranged from £58.95 to £58.95, with fees of £10 for delivery and a £30 deposit (“to ensure safe return of the tree”) respectively. Renters could opt to pay £10 for pickup, or return the tree to a “collection hub” between January 3 and 6 2021. A FAQ page also noted that trees ought not be placed near a source of heat, to avoid shocking it when it was collected to be sent back to the farm:
… this can trick the tree into thinking its spring, new shoots grow then in January the tree heads back to the farm and boom it’s freezing. The tree gets a cold shock and needs to recover- we must avoid this.
We weren’t able to find any information on their site about “retirement” when trees grew to be seven feet (or two meters) tall, but the FAQ did indicate that trees of that maturity level were “at the edge of their growth in their pot” — alluding to an afterlife outside the planter:
The 7 footers are at the edge of their growth in the pot so probably won’t be suitable to have back but we are looking at other options for you.
Christmas Tree Rental Outside London
Although the viral post referenced London Christmas Tree rental, similar services existed in other places — typically near cities.
For example, RentXmasTree.com served the broader San Francisco area (but pricing wasn’t visible):
Since 2009 we have been offering a convenient and environmentally friendly alternative by celebrating the Holidays with a living Christmas tree. We make this possible by caring for thousands of potted fir, spruce, cedar and redwood trees in our nursery, making them ready to be delivered to your home or office at the beginning of December, for you to enjoy for 30 days.
Similarly, the Living Christmas Co. rented trees across Southern California, and provided slightly different care instructions for their potted Christmas trees:
Our living trees respond well to loving attention and feeling apart of the family! That and they need 1-2 quarts of water every 2-3 days depending on the size of your tree and how toasty it is in your casa. Don’t you wish all holiday guests were so easy?
Listed prices were a bit higher than in London, ranging from $135 to $275 for the season. We were unable to locate any services specifically for living, returnable Christmas trees in New York City, but Christmas tree delivery was a popular service — ranging from $549 to $999 for non-potted trees.
A December 2019 Better Homes and Gardens (BHG.com) article reported that in suburban and exurban areas, the service was still occasionally available from local nurseries:
… Still, Christmas tree rental is only available in pockets of the U.S. via companies like The Living Christmas Co. and Rent Xmas Tree (both of which serve California). Other vendors, such as Rent-A-Christmas, offer rental of real and artificial spruces in the New York City metro area. If you’re outside those two areas, you may have luck with your local Christmas tree farm—check to see if they offer rental options.
As of December 10 2020, several Christmas tree rental companies had rented all their trees for 2020, but the service would likely be back in 2021 for those who missed the window or liked the idea but already obtained a tree.
A viral Facebook post about London Christmas Tree Rental involved a Twitter user being “hyped about this sustainable Xmas gem,” by which for a reasonable fee, Christmas trees were available for rent and return — keeping them out of landfills. The service was real and accurately described. Moreover, living Christmas tree rental was a service available in cities and regions; some independent nurseries also rented living Christmas trees. Pricing for the service in London was reasonable, from £58.95 to £58.95 before delivery costs (£10) and a refundable deposit (£30).