Going Green: Ecological Festivities As Germans Rent Out Live Christmas Trees

Two eco-minded German entrepreneurs were so sickened by the piles of rotting and dead Christmas trees after the holidays they came up with a great idea. They now rent out Christmas trees, still very much alive and growing.

Making the word "green" mean something real this Christmas, instead of cutting down trees for the festivities and then throwing them away, these two guys rent four different sizes of Christmas tree. This gives families the opportunity to decorate beautiful and authentic trees each year, giving them back after the holidays. The trees themselves are happy, of course, as they get to live another year.

Sebastian Schoenfeld, 33, and Jan Wehmeyer, 31, were shocked when they saw the pile of dumped Christmas tree remains after Christmas 2014, and came up with the idea of launching a company called Happy Tree, purely to rent out "sustainable" fir trees in pots.

Sebastian Rabe, a spokesperson for Happy Tree, told NBC News the idea is that Christmas trees will no longer have to die, "but can be as happy as their human families during the festive season."

As reported by the Local, Happy Tree started with 400 Christmas trees for rent in Cologne and Dusseldorf, western Germany and this holiday season has expanded to cover 12 cities including Hamburg, Bremen and Hannover and now rents out around 3,000 trees.

To maximize their "green" aspect, according to Rabe the rent-able Christmas trees are grown on a farm in the Netherlands and "take the shortest route to the customer in order to minimize carbon dioxide emissions during transport."

With quaint names like Baumgard, Tanneliese, Thorwald and Waldemar, they are likely to be popular this Christmas season and reportedly a week before Christmas, Happy Tree had already run out of the smallest sized trees.

Bearing in mind the best quality freshly-cut, six-foot trees go for around $44 in Germany, the rent-able versions are more expensive at around $70 including delivery and pickup at the customer's home, but come along with a manual giving instructions on the tree's care.

Following the instructions with love and care means there will be no dropped pine needles all over the home towards the end of the festivities, an added bonus indeed.

Care must be taken, however, as the Christmas Tree Growers' Federation reportedly warns that "in a pot, you can quickly destroy [a Nordmann]," as too-warm conditions and too little water can be a deadly combination for the living trees.

Reportedly Happy Tree said that around three-quarters of its Nordmann fir trees survived Christmas last year and they hope this year to increase the rate to 90 or even 95 percent.

With its beautifully quaint Christmas markets, Germany always "does" Christmas well, and according to the Federation of Christmas Tree Growers, over 23 million trees are sold in the country each year. Germany is reportedly a world leader in terms of sales per capita of the festive firs.

A spokesperson, Martin Rometsch, told NBC News they estimate there are around two million homes purchasing the trees, with some even buying two Christmas trees for the holidays.

The Inquisitr recently reported on the story of a family in England which has probably never bought a Christmas tree, as they have what is most likely the U.K.'s oldest Christmas tree. Bought in 1920, the artificial tree has survived everything from Hitler's bombs to a ferocious storm, and is still brought out each year, decorated with the original Christmas decorations.

Speaking of artificial Christmas trees, however, another Inquisitr article warns that these unnatural trees might come with hidden dangers that could be making your family sick. The opportunity to rent a real live tree each year does sound like a far superior alternative.

[Photo via Flickr by chrisforsyth/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]