These cinnamon+citrus flavored VEGAN Christmas Tree Ornament Cookies add a beautiful, edible touch to your holiday tree!
Growing up in tropical India, all my life, I have only known Christmas trees made of plastic, which means that all my life, I’ve wanted a chance to have one Christmas with the real deal. My first Christmas in the U.S., I was living in an small-ish apartment with room mates which made it a little impractical to add a full-sized tree to the tiny living space. Turns out, it was a good thing, because come January, I saw the remnant horror that the holiday merry making resulted in and began re-thinking my dream of a real Christmas tree.
Sidewalks littered and dumpsters over-flowing with dead Christmas trees, trees that were celebrated, adorned and beloved not two weeks ago. It reminded me of that episode of FRIENDS, where Phoebe goes to a Christmas tree farm and sees the wood chipper and gets very upset about the Christmas trees whose purposes were never fulfilled.
I read somewhere that it takes about 10 years for a Christmas Tree to be ready for harvest. That thought made me incredibly sad (again, to quote Phoebe, ‘cut in its prime..’), which led me to do a little research on the matter: real vs. artificial.
There are tons of articles that debate the topic, so if you’re really curious, go take a look. The bottom-line is that as morbid as it seems to decapitate a living tree for a mere few weeks of amusement, it IS more eco-friendly than the plastic re-usable ones (I swear, I did not see that coming!), which are made of non-biodegradable plastic and often come with a giant carbon foot print, three or even ten times more than a real live tree.
For every tree cut, farmers plant 3 more the following Spring, and with the giant size of the industry, this ensures that there are around 350,000 acres (in the U.S.) of guaranteed green space of growing Christmas trees at any time. With the ever-growing population diminishing forestation for habitation, I like the idea of any industry preserving and ensuring green space.
As long as you live in a part of the world where Christmas trees grow locally, support a tree farm with ethical, sustainable, organic growing practices, and ensure that the tree you dispose of is recycled properly instead of ending up in a landfill, you should be fine patronizing this industry.
For everyone else, here are some eco-friendly options for the Holidays without having to feel like a planet-killer:
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1.Potted Christmas Trees
If the thought of killing something that was sucking CO2 out of the atmosphere for around 10 years, supporting local wildlife and preventing soil erosion, among tons of other benefits a living plant can provide, then the best alternative is a potted Christmas Tree.
Keep in mind, it’s heavier than a cut tree to transport, but after Christmas, it can be re-planted and it keeps on growing, and contributing to the planet.
Rosemary (the herb) looks quite close to pine needles, and during the holidays, you can get them shaped in the form of a tree. If a mini-tree is your thing, then why not buy a herb, which you can use and continue growing indoors or outdoors for the rest of the year? Rosemary is a perennial herb, which means with a little care and regular pruning, your herb tree can be a part of your holidays for years to come, while flavoring your dishes the rest of the year!
Most plastic artificial trees are made with PVC, which is not bio-degradable and even though you can re-use it for about 5-10 years, the annual folding and unfolding of the branches, plus the year-long storage in a cramped up box will inevitably cause your tree to look haggard and unkempt over-time and require replacing. Plus, most of these plastic trees are made in China, and for those in the United States, it’s a huge carbon footprint to import these trees here.
So if live trees and tree-like herbs are not your thing, why not consider other biodegradable tree-forms. There are also tons of DIY options made from recycled objects. You can make your tree uniquely you and still have a way to display your ornament collection.
Now that we’ve covered eco-friendly tree options, let’s talk about the decorations. Because let’s face it: a Christmas tree is just a tree without the ornaments.
I’m not going to tell you to throw away all your current ornaments (even I am not that heartless!) – they are each precious and steeped in memories, which is what the holidays should be about. All I ask, is that from this year onwards, when you add to your ornament collection, keep in mind how and where it’s made and what it’s made of.
Buy local and fair-trade goods as much as possible (reducing the carbon foot print it travels from source to destination), choose materials like wood and cloth over glass and ceramics, DIY gloriously succulent and glistening red garlands from cranberries (which, even when shriveled can be made into delicious jam at the end of the season), etc.
The tree that I have photographed here is a mini plastic tree that I bought my first year in the U.S. because it was my first year away from family and I was terribly home sick during the holidays. I also binge bought a few ornaments that year, but since then, my collection has remained static. I do regret buying this plastic tree, but what’s done is done. I didn’t know any better back then, but I can warn others into making better, informed decisions.
And with that thought, can I urge you to consider these edible VEGAN Christmas Tree Ornament Cookies – flavored with cinnamon, nutmeg and citrus zest, they fill your home with holiday scents as they bake, and taste incredibly crisp and keeps well during the holiday season on the tree. Besides it’s a really fun activity to do with family, and it can even become a new tradition for everyone to chip in together in.
These edible cookies are a new tradition I’m adding to my home starting this year, and I love that they can be eaten in its entirety at the end of the year, and the twines reused in my herb drying rack. Even if I decide to throw them away, they will compost perfectly in a few months and enrich my garden.
My cookie decoration skills are a little sub-par, but if you’re good at it, they would make incredibly cute gifts to send or take to your friends and family for the holidays. Just pop them in a really cute box, wrap them in handcrafted seed paper or Furoshiki and you are good to go. Besides making someone happy, you also get to feel really great about having done a good thing for the planet.
And when you make these delicious VEGAN Christmas Tree Ornament Cookies (which I really think you SHOULD!), be sure to SHARE YOUR PHOTOS with me through Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. I’d love to see what you cook from here!