The Compact Christmas: Even The Christmas Tree Is Used!
On January 6th, 2007 I joined The Compact, a group of individuals committed to a one calendar year flight from the consumer grid by agreeing to buy no new products of any kind (aside from food and health items) and instead choosing to borrow, barter or buy used.
The Compact is a slippery slope. It’s pretty much impossible to quit once you start. As a result, almost four years after my original sign up date, I’m still committed to only buying used.
I’m so used to finding ways to hack my life around The Compact, that it’s rare that I’m challenged by the “Buy Only Used” portion of The Compact, so I am extra excited about the first Christmas tree my boyfriend and I have shared together, as a mini-compacting achievement.
For the past three Christmases that we’ve been together, My boyfriend, the lapsed Catholic, has really wanted a Christmas tree, which was problematic for many reasons that have nothing to do with the fact that I’m an infidel who doesn’t celebrate a holiday in December:
1. Since Christmas really has become a consumerist event that starts before Halloween in this country, it has become something of a direct obstacle to the compacting goals of not just refusing to consume any new resources out of the planet, but also reducing clutter and waste, and simplifying life (as in Calm-Pact). As THIRTY MILLION Christmas trees end up in the landfill every year, buying a new live cut tree means a commitment to recycling it after the holidays, which without a wood-chipper, is a total drag.
2. While I was willing to buy a vintage aluminum tree–with rotating colored light–on ebay to reuse year after year, my boyfriend wasn’t so keen. Apparently, a silver metal tree is too disco ball…or something.
While a used artificial tree is probably the better environmental choice for us, I wasn’t looking forward to storing it in the off-season in my thousand square foot house, especially since I’m a the shrew who complains about how much prime real estate in the garage is already taken up by the four boxes of Christmas crap my boyfriend has collected over the years.
3. Did I mention that we live in a thousand square foot house? When we meticulously arranged the furniture to maximize our floor plan, it did not include a spot for a Christmas tree.
So, up until last night, I think both of us had written off getting a tree, again, as a problem to solve for next year.
My friend Gloria had her pre-Christmas Dice Game last night–which is sort of the extreme version of a white elephant party, where people gamble and steal wrapped gifts without knowing the contents of the boxes until the very end of the game.
We ended up with a fly swatter clock and an “I HEART ZOMBIES” pin at the end of the dice game, but another couple ended up with a used Christmas tree!
Gloria had purchased a three foot tall, potted, Italian pine as a Christmas tree this year. When the tree was delivered, she had decided that she needed a five foot tree instead. So, she had boxed up the care instructions for the tree to regift it. The couple who won the tree are Norwegians who are leaving today for Christmas in Europe. The live tree will be a dead one by the time they get back from their holiday, so they regifted the tree to us.
Call it a Compact Christmas Miracle that we managed to end up with a third-hand Christmas tree.
Back at Dinky Manor, we kicked into tree-trimming overdrive. Instead of using a single purpose tree skirt, we wrapped the red plastic pot with a red and cream striped tablecloth that we already owned, using a binder clip to hold the draped fabric in place. The tiny, to-scale ornaments, and the red wooden beads had been purchased used for unrelated craft projects years ago. Mr. Foxypants added the star-shaped tree topper and only his most treasured regular-sized ornaments from childhood to the tree to round things out. (He agreed to garage sale the other three boxes of Christmas swag. Yay)!
Even though our tree is crammed in the corner of our tiny living room, I think our Christmas display turned out pretty cute.
At the end of the season we’ll transplant the tree into a large italian terra cotta pot. Hopefully, the little tree will survive in a pot on our porch so we can reuse it year after year.
There Are 4000 recycling centers for recycling trees in the United states after Christmas. Google “Where to recycle christmas tree?” or go here for a short list by state.