christmas tree

Celebrating the Holidays Differently – Iona’s Guide to A Green Winter Holiday in Metro Vancouver


We know this holiday is looking very different for everyone. Although we can’t spend it with our extended family and with friends, we know many of you will still find special ways to celebrate this winter holiday. So, this year, I’ve updated our Green Winter Holiday Guide to make it more relevant and reflective of the 2020 holiday season.  As you’ll see, I’ve really tried think of everything so that you don’t have to!

In this how-to guide, I cover everything from holiday trees (artificial trees vs. real trees) and decorations, to holiday meals, to eco-friendly gift-giving.  The gift-giving section is particularly unique. It includes some of the more typical gifts that you may have already thought of, as well as many unique ideas. Plus, to make things even easier, I have given many ideas and examples that are local to Metro Vancouver. Of course, the principles can be easily replicated elsewhere too. So, let’s get started with part one!

Artificial Trees vs. Real Trees

This year, many people are spending more time and effort on holiday decorations to brighten up their homes and mood. And of course for many households, that means putting up a Christmas tree. So let’s first tackle a question that I often come across – what type of holiday tree is the greener option? An artificial tree that can be used for multiple years, or a real tree that can only be used for one season? Based on research by the Recycling Council of British Columbia, which looked at the full life cycle of both types of trees, a real tree is the best option.

real christmas tree

Here is a quick breakdown of artificial trees vs. real trees:

Artificial trees

  • Are typically made abroad (e.g. in China, Taiwan, and South Korea) where there are fewer environmental and labour protection regulations
  • Are made of petroleum products (PVC) which are toxic
  • Use up resources in both the manufacturing and shipping processes
  • Can’t be recycle

Real trees

  • Are grown locally
  • Can provide a natural habitat for wildlife
  • During their growth, sequester carbon dioxide
  • Can be mulched – many cities in Metro Vancouver such as Vancouver, Burnaby, Langley and Surrey will pick up your tree and mulch it for free – and eventually composted after the holiday season

If you have ample natural light within your home, you can even opt for a live potted tree. Some good options include:

  • Norfolk pine, which need to be kept indoors year-round
  • Fir
  • Spruce
  • Pine
  • Cedar, which can be planted outside after the holiday season

If you buy a small tree in a large pot, you may be able to reuse the tree for 2- 3 years without having to plant or repot the tree. If and when you do you need to replant, transferring the tree into a larger pot will help you get a few more years out of the tree. If you aren’t able to take care of a potted tree the rest of the year, you can also opt to rent a holiday tree. Evergrow Christmas Trees offers potted trees you can rent, and they even deliver to your home! So, I hope I’ve answered your question about which one is better, artificial trees vs. real trees. The obvious choice here is real trees.  

Check out the other posts in our Guide to A Green Winter Holiday in Metro Vancouver series

  1. Healthy Holiday Meals
  2. Top 5 Green 2018 Holiday Decorations
  3. Not Your Typical Stuff for Kids – Kids Gifts 2020!
  4. Green Gift Wrapping
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