As we celebrate the holiday season, we want to consider a business that has used Christmas trees to break paradigms and provide employment.
For most people, getting a Christmas tree involves going to a lot to purchase or cut a live tree. The tree is brought home, decorated, and enjoyed until after the holidays. Then, the tree ends up at the curb to be hauled away, burned, or ground into mulch. (Of course, in my house, it goes back into the box and on the shelf until next year, but for today we will consider only live trees.)
Enter Scott Martin, who spent a holiday season delivering trees for a nursery in the Los Angeles area. While he enjoyed delivering the trees and seeing the excitement they caused, he was saddened to see them as debris after the holiday.
These experiences inspired Martin to create The Living Christmas Tree Company in 2008. Their mission is “to change the way California celebrates Christmas.” Instead of purchasing trees, customers rent their Christmas tree and return it after the holiday. Customers can also purchase Fair Trade decorations and ecologically appropriate ornaments.
Martin takes on-line orders for trees which can be picked up or delivered to customers’ homes. Most trees cost between $100 and $200. After Christmas, the trees are picked up and kept in pots so they can continue to grow until the next December when they are rented again. Customers originally could order the same tree each year, but due to the expansion of the company and continued growth of the trees, this is no longer possible. When a tree is no longer usable as a rental, it is planted in a nearby forest or community through the Urban Reforestation project.
Since its founding, the company has expanded into other communities. In addition to creating a new business that is ecologically sound and permits the continued use of the trees, the company is also committed to hiring veterans to deliver the trees and in other parts of the operation. They are now working with the Veterans Administration to help find new employees.
The Living Christmas Tree company has broken paradigms by its business model of rental and reuse of its trees. This eliminates the need for customers to find trees, arrange for their delivery, and ultimately dispose of them. The green nature of the company is good for the ecology and the economy. The expansion of the company and use of veterans has provided layoff aversion and the opportunity for increased employment.
No matter what kind of tree you may have or the holidays you celebrate, Columbus Area Labor-Management Committee would like to wish you a happy holiday season.