Going green to get the Christmas tree

With the weather as nice as its been the last few days, some families are dumping their cars to get their Christmas tree.

“Eric Seibel of Ballard went negative in his carbon footprint of getting his Christmas tree this year,” Tom Roush emailed us. Seibel and his two boys Asher and Clayton rode their bikes to and from the Boy Scout Christmas tree lot at St. Alphonsus School. “I got a call from him about 20 minutes after I took this picture,” Roush says, “He was elated to say that not only did he and the boys make it home safely, but the tree was alive and well, and was still standing straight up. Must be something to this whole knot tying thing and scouts.” The scouts just received another 400 freshly cut trees in time for another sunny weekend. “Our scouts will tie your tree to your car – or clearly, whatever vehicle you happen to show up in,” Roush concludes.

Geeky Swedes

The founders of My Ballard

35 thoughts to “Going green to get the Christmas tree”

  1. Another fantastic way to green up your Christmas and your community is to rent a living tree that is later planted in local parks, like Carkeek. If you're interested in finding out more about nurseries in Seattle and even programs outside the Seattle area that offer these restoration tree programs read more here: http://www.gardenhelp.org/trees/christmas-trees

    And, another option is to look at the Seattle Parks Foundation programs whereby your tree donation may become a living legacy holiday gift or memorial: http://www.gardenhelp.org/trees/living-legacy-h

    Now…to decide about my own holiday tree….hmmm…:)

  2. Wait, so that isn't a cut tree but a planted tree? If not I'm rather interested in hearing about how a cut christmas tree puts your carbon footprint in the negative.

  3. Heh heh… if you really want to go negative carbon footprint don't buy a Xmas tree that's been cut down w/ a chain saw and shipped to the city on a big truck! =}

  4. So obviously the Grinch is GREEN as well, by these posts. It's a fun, sweet article about a family's twist on getting the christmas tree home. Lighten up, or does that increase my carbon footprint? Go bah humbug somewhere else and kiss my well lit wreath.

  5. These kids'll probably always remember the year they got the tree with the bike trailer. And the fact that a picture of them doing it appeared on the Internet is just icing on the cake.

    It takes a cool dad to make memories like this. You go, pop!

  6. It might not be “green” to buy a christmas tree at all, but at least they did a little less harm by not driving it, if that was even the point…sometimes it's just fun to try and do something a little different. Good for them.

  7. Very cool. :) I have no issue with sustainable Christmas tree farming. As long as you don't burn the tree when it's done. Live Christmas trees have a large carbon footprint due to transportation.

  8. I'm all for carrying things on your bike. I love hauling big things on the back of mine. It's the embarrassing phrases in the post that bother me.

  9. People who start talking about negative carbon footprint have already sucked the fun out of everything. Asking whether it's a cut or planted tree is just asking whether they thought about the entire decision.

  10. One really does have to stretch the imagination to justify the I Love Gassing Up My SUV mentality, especially since it gets sold as patriotic. It turns out that the crowd who is concerned about their neighbors and concerned about their children having enough to survive enjoys a much richer tradition in the United States. We've got The Frugal American Housewife, the Progressive Movement, Henry David Whatshisname, et al. The Proud To Destroy Everything movement is a pretty recent aberration around here.

    The guy who goes around dumping salt in the only drinking well in town, or who breaks in and eats the food stores meant for children, or who lights the oil wells on fire just to see a pretty light show can't expect to be very welcome in society for long…

  11. Most of the people complaining, well maybe some of them, wouldn't have said anything if the story was just that, but as soon as you throw in “negative carbon footprint” you'll get the cranks on both sides.
    I agree that it is just a cool shot of a dad and his kids doing something a little different and fun.

  12. Yeah. I guess I shouldn't be surprised about anything on here turning into a political debate. Even a cute story about Christmas trees.

  13. The “green” side of it has nothing to do with it. I just think it is retarded.

    And that kid is wearing shorts, what kind of father lets his kid wear shorts in 50 degree weather?

  14. How large is a 'large carbon footprint' ? Are you accounting for the carbon sequested in the 8-10 years the tree grew? Don't forget the roots (roughly half the tree's carbon) stay in the soil.

  15. Oh yeah, thought I'd mention that I just bought a tree from the boy scouts. Nice to see the kids and their parents all working together and it was one of the most pleasant tree buying trips I've had and that's even with using conventional transport of my car.

  16. Well, I've held off responding to these posts for awhile. This is Tom, the guy who took the picture.
    I had no idea a little picture of a dad and his kid could cause such a fuss. It was, as some have said, just a fun shot, a fun time had by a very cool dad and his two sons. As they went past, I just thought how cool it was that, given how many trees we’d tied to cars, trucks, and SUV’s, this one customer would get the tree home without burning any gas doing it, and so, I mentioned the whole carbon thing when I sent it in. It turns out that one could argue both sides of this whole green thing with how much carbon trees suck out of the air, but right now, let's just take that off the table because it seems that all it does is cause controversy. It's now Monday, I'm finally thawing out after a shift at the tree lot yesterday where it was 29 degrees when I left.
    As SPG said, we had scouts and adults happily working their heinies off getting trees trimmed and loaded onto cars. We're all volunteers, each scout works at least 5 three hour shifts, each parent works 4. That means there's about 450 3 hour shifts over the course of the time the tree lot is open. The younger scouts learn the ropes by sweeping up the lot and learning which kind of tree is which, then the grow into knowing the trees well enough to where they can help folks choose the tree that best fits them, and the bigger scouts and adults are generally the ones tying the trees to the cars.
    This is where the whole “knot tying” thing comes in really handy – and what's known as a taut line hitch works beautifully for tying, then cinching a tree to the roof of a car in about 5 minutes. (it's a little harder when it's cold and snowing – the fingers just don't work as well when it's that cold)
    Some fun facts about the tree lot – it's been around for over 50 years, and for a long time we had one person drive up from Portland to get his tree from us. (that tree was tied on VERY tightly)
    A few years ago, some of the younger scouts were tying a tree to the roof of an older couple's car. The couple stayed inside where it was warm while the scouts tied the tree on, looping it through the inside. When they were done, the tree was secure, and the couple drove off…
    Only to come back in about 10 minutes…
    Seems that when the scouts looped the string through the car, they managed to tie the doors shut, and the people couldn't get out. Ahh, lessons learned.
    They laughed, we smiled.
    Another time, a fellow showed up in a big pickup. He didn't park – just pulled up.
    “Can we help you?”
    “Wanna tree.”
    “Did you have any preference?”
    “Did you have a size in mind?”
    “That one.” (the one I was standing next to)
    “Would you like some cut off the bottom?” (we do that so the tree draws water better when it gets home)
    We put the tree into the truck and stood there, kind of stunned, as he roared off, the money he'd handed me fluttering in the breeze.
    These are times when a lot of people – especially in this economy, have to cut way, way back – and that's awfully hard. Part of the money earned from the sale of these trees goes right back into the community, some goes to needy families in the form of coupons through 13 Seattle area schools, some goes into getting gift cards – usually to Fred Meyer – so needy families can have a little extra – either toys, groceries, or diapers – whatever they need. Those coupons are taken care of long before the first tree hits the lot, and it's been like that for years.
    There are other times when a young couple comes in for their first child, and their very first tree. We often cut off an extra little slice of the bottom of the tree for them to hang on next year's tree – and that way, each year, they have a little bit of last year's Christmas with them, and they can tell “Remember when…” stories as they hold them, and then there's the older lady who lives alone nearby, doesn't have a car, and asks if we can help her get the tree home. (we do)
    Then there are times when folks show up who are so down on their luck they don't think they can afford a tree, at that symbol of Christmas, and they stand there in tears when they realize the coupon they were given will allow them to not only get a tree, but have money for other things.
    Sometimes we share those tears – but – most of us being guys and all, we just tie the trees to their car, smile, wish them a Merry Christmas, and wish them a very happy new year. We usually have something in our eye that needs to be wiped away after they leave though… So if you decide to get your tree from us, we'd be happy to see you. If you've got some stories to share about your experience, it'd be fun to hear them. If you're a grinch, please wait till your heart's grown three sizes before sharing. :)
    That's a joke, folks. Smile.
    Anyway, there's a herd of parents and scouts unloading a truckload of trees as I write this on a very chilly Monday evening. They were cut this morning, so believe me, they're fresh. They came from Shelton, not too far away, so money spent on a Christmas tree from Troop 100 not only stays here in the community, but it doesn't leave the state. The scout dad who manages the tree part is a forest geneticist, so it's safe to say he knows his trees. He and his son selected the ones you see on our lot back in August, when most people were thinking of swimming, burgers, and picnics.
    Take care, be nice to each other, and Merry Christmas,

  17. We chose to go “green” four years ago not by choice but by necessity. With an artificial tree our cats no longer feel the need to eat the pine needles to help regurgitate old intestinal hairballs on our pricey tree skirt. We also no longer have to decide which family member has to do a military crawl to maneuver underneath prickly branches to water the darn thing.

  18. Be proud, Tom, of what you and your troups accomplish each year. Dismiss the grumpy ones and focus on the joy you bring to the other 99.9% of the locals. If we were still purchasing live (cut) trees, we would definitely patron your location. Have a wonderful and happy holiday season!!

  19. We had to do that one year, too – I was going through chemo, and I wasn't allowed to go anywhere near a real tree because of something called 'aspergillis' – it was very strange. My wife and son worked the lot like they had in years past, but I couldn't.

  20. Will do- and thanks. Went down to Shelton to get some more trees yesterday – some had been cut 20 minutes before we got there, others had been cut the day before and had turned into 'tree-cicles' :). It was a very nice drive down, but the road back was very, very slippery – Hood canal was frozen over – not thick enough to walk on, but ice all the way across – that was – well, 'cool'. :)

  21. received another 400 freshly cut trees in time for another sunny weekend. “Our scouts will tie your tree to your car – or clearly, whatever vehicle you happen to show up in,” Roush concludes.

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