Czech project offers imperfect Christmas trees

Over a million Christmas trees are sold in Czechia each year, many of them having been imported from as far as Denmark and Norway. A new initiative, called Zachraň stromek or Save a Tree, has come up with a more sustainable way of celebrating Christmas. It offers locally grown trees that would never make it to the market due to their imperfections. I discussed the project with one of its authors, Jana Brišová, and  first asked her how she got the idea to sell crooked Christmas trees:

Photo: Lukáš Milota,  Czech Radio

“We were actually on a hike with my friends in South Bohemia and as we walked through a forest, we saw a tree that was really twisted. My friends were making fun of it and I felt sorry for the tree, so I said I would have it in my living room at Christmas.

“This is how we got into a discussion about imperfect trees and whether every tree that farmers grow is perfect. We did a bit of research and found out it was just the opposite.”

Where do these imperfect, crooked trees come from?

“After our research, we approached small business and farmers in South Bohemia and we offered to buy these imperfect trees from them. Because they all have such trees that they have to get rid of. So we were decided to offer them to people so as to save them.”

How many such trees don’t make it to the market due to their imperfections?

Photo: Tomáš Sedláček,  Czech Radio

“Each year, around 1,300,000 Christmas trees are sold in Czechia and almost every tenth tree is imperfect and farmers have to get rid of it.”

So what happens with the trees that don’t make it to the market?

“They either crush them in a crushing mill or burn them on the side so that they don’t have any additional costs with those trees. Because if they were to ship them somewhere they would have to pay for the shipping, which would be really expensive.”

So what kind of trees do you offer and how does it work?

“We have created a website or an e-shop where people can buy either a spruce of a fur. Smaller trees measure between one and one and a half metres and the bigger ones are around two metres tall.

“People buy the tree online, so they don’t know what exactly it looks like, because each tree is unique and imperfect in a different way. So they only find out when they receive it.”

How many trees have you already sold this way?

“I would say it is in the higher hundreds. I also have to say people have been sending us many supportive messages, and it made us really happy that they actually care about the environment and that there are so many people who are ready to buy trees that would otherwise go to a crusher.”

Zachraň stromek