Imagine enjoying a live Christmas tree without the waste—no cutting it down and tossing it to the curb. Companies like in California are adding a sustainable twist to a time-honored tradition by making this vision a reality. This company delivers a rented Christmas tree right to your doorstep and will even pick it up for you using bio-diesel trucks when possible. We talked to owner Scott Martin, aka “Scotty Claus,” about how he’s making Christmases merry, bright and sustainable.
Imagine enjoying a live Christmas tree without the waste—no cutting it down and tossing it to the curb. Companies like The Living Christmas Tree Company in California are adding a sustainable twist to a time-honored tradition by making this vision a reality. This company delivers a rented Christmas tree right to your doorstep and will even pick it up for you using bio-diesel trucks when possible. We talked to owner Scott Martin, aka “Scotty Claus,” about how he’s making Christmases merry, bright and sustainable.
What inspired you to start The Living Christmas Tree Company?
It first came to me the year I spent my Christmas vacation delivering trees for a local nursery. I truly enjoyed seeing the joy on people’s faces when the trees were delivered to homes but was saddened at seeing the same trees discarded with the rest of the trash in the weeks following Christmas.
How does the process work?
Through our website, you can select the size and variety of your tree. You can even select when you want our elves to drop it off and pick it up. It’s easy-peezy, but we also have a few customer-service elves who can walk you through the process.
What sustainable practices do you use?
Awareness is probably our most important environmental initiative. By creating an alternative to cutting down a tree or purchasing a petroleum-based artificial tree, we are also providing an opportunity to breathe more consciousness into the holiday season.
Our tree lots serve as urban in-fill, as we look for brownfield and utility company property to create urban forests with our trees in the communities that need green the most. The trees are grown locally with varieties adapted to the local climate, so they naturally require less water and fertilizers to be maintained.
Because every tree is ordered online, we cut down on single trip visits to the tree lot. Instead, we are able to efficiently route deliveries of 20 to 30 trees at a time, further reducing our footprint.
How have you included the community in your vision?
We define environment as both “nature” and “community”—as such, to be good stewards of the environment, we need to care for our community. We need a massive amount of seasonal labor, for example, so we look to programs supporting veterans and homeless people first. Last year, 75 percent of our workforce were either veterans or those in assisted living.
What’s been your favorite holiday memory since you started The Living Christmas Tree?
After an especially tough year, I received a photograph of a newborn baby under a tree. The adjoining letter thanked us for providing them with a tree and the knowledge that a living tree will be the standard for how their newborn baby will experience Christmas. My heart melted, and I thought, well, I guess I am doing it again next year!
Your future plans for The Living Christmas Tree?
We are working on expanding our definition of a living Christmas by adding more locally made, eco-conscious and Fair Trade products and ornaments to our website. These products will either be made in our community, use recycled products or support the Fair Trade movement around the world. Some of the programs we are currently working with support women’s programs in India and survivors of the genocide in Rwanda.
Your wish for the holidays?
I hope other entrepreneurs are inspired in other places around the country to find the joy of a living Christmas. That way, the joy can spread to every household and business.