Well it’s December 25 already, so you’re either opening presents or ordering Chinese. For those of you partaking in the Christmas revelry, you’ve already got your tree decked to the nines. But for next year, here are a few thoughts about new ways to do the old tree that might be just a little friendlier on the environment, the landfills, and the health of your loved ones – or at the very least, might add a little novelty to a long-honored tradition.

According to the National Christmas Tree Association:

-Approximately 25 million-30 million real Christmas trees are sold in the nation every year.

-An acre of Christmas Trees produces the daily oxygen for 18 people.

-Eighty percent of artificial trees are manufactured in China, and most are made with PVC and other plastics, which do not biodegrade and which contain enough lead to legally require a warning label.

Don’t let this depress you on Christmas! Instead, may we suggest a Rent-a-Tree? Or perhaps you would like to grow your own

There are plenty of people out there who actually attest that “Real Christmas Trees” have real environmental benefits, doing all the oxygen-producing, CO2-absorbing work that any good trees do, and more of it. Christmas trees also make up a very real industry, which creates jobs and supports the economy. But this doesn’t change the fact that people chop 15-year-old trees down for a few short weeks of pleasure, then kick them to the curb, only to cause chaos with garbage collection and landfills. And the fake ones? Need we say more than: lead poisoning?

San Francisco got some attention last week for their new Rent-a-Tree program, which provides a variety of tree species to families for the holiday season. They can be strung with popcorn and tinsel just like their disposable cousins, but come early January, the city will pick them up and plant them in a neighborhood that needs some greening. This is not the first program of its kind. The Original Living Christmas Tree Company in Oregon has been providing this service for some time. It’s not the cheapest route, but it definitely represents the spirit of giving that characterizes this season.

If you want something cheaper, how about a DIY tree? The Yule Tree-To-Be Kit provides you with seeds to grow your own Noble Fir. This is a great idea for marking an important first (first Xmas together, baby’s first Xmas, etc.), and it grows in size and meaning as the years pass.

For today, please enjoy yourselves and your tree – whatever its origins and future. We wish you a wonderful holiday and a bright new year.

— Your friends at Inhabitat

(Thanks to reader Brandon for information and ideas about trees!)