'Book' Christmas tree is easy, eco-friendly, and free

Every year I despair a little bit about the christmas tree issue. There's something disturbing about growing a tree just to cut it down for a couple of weeks of display in your living room. And there's nothing more pitiful than seeing dead trees stripped of ornaments and heartlessly thrown into the gutter after the holiday.

And yet - there's something amazing about the tree, too. It smells good, for one, and it creates this center space in your house for people to gather around. And, yes, it's a convenient place to put the holiday presents, if you still do those.

© April Streeter

Of course the eco-minded have tried a number of different Christmas tree options. There's limiting yourself to a small tree in a pot, keeping it alive in your too-warm house, and hoping it will still live when you or someone else replants it after the holidays. There's an organic tree - very expensive - but at least grown without dumping massive amounts of chemicals. There's a fake tree, which you can never quite love but at least it's more sustainable. You can get eco points by getting your organic tree delivered by bike...

Or, there's a book tree.

A book tree is not going to bring the fresh scent of the forest into your living room. But when we saw the book tree on our sister site Mother Nature Network, we just knew it was 'the one.' There are compensations for the DIY book-based Xmas tree, and here they are:

1) A book tree is free! All you need is a couple of hours, a dusting cloth and some LED holiday lights. Ornaments are optional.

2) A book tree gets you in touch with your lovely books. And they likely are lovely. You'll probably turn up a few classics that you can't wait to read again.

3) A book tree is a great conversation starter. Not only is it still unusual, it's also just a lot of fun to see the contents of your bookshelf so prominently displayed.

4) A book tree is reduce, reuse, recycle all in one. There's nothing to buy, it's a great use for books that mostly take up space, and once Christmas is over, you'll recycle them right back to the shelves again - minus the ones you've decided to read, re-read, or gift to others.

© April Streeter

Here are a few tips and instructions for your book tree:

1) Separate your books into like sizes before you begin. Large with large, smaller with smaller. Separation by color is also good if you want a certain color theme.

2) Start with a nice large base. If you have something cone shaped to serve as a skeleton, build your books around that (we used an upside down planter). This insures your book tree won't implode.

3) As you build, test your book tree to make sure it isn't too precarious. A little unevenness is okay - it lets you have lots of nooks and crannies for draping lights and putting ornaments.

4) LED light strings are best - less heat = less fire risk.

For more DIY bibliophile tree tips, look here and here. Enjoy!

Tags: A Picture Is Worth | Recycled Consumer Goods | Reusability | TreeHugger Picks