Earth-friendly company recycles Christmas trees

January 7, 2011 7:40:07 PM PST
'Tis the season to get rid of all that tinsel and un-deck your halls. One local company is making part of that job easy while also protecting the planet.

Millions of trees are cut down each year for Christmas. But what if you could enjoy the look and smell of a real spruce in your home without uprooting it? One local man found a way to answer that question while helping folks around the city and suburbs "live green."

Taking down all the decorations, they say, is never quite as much fun as putting them up. But the owners of the KnockBox Cafe say they are glad that's where their job ends.

"Definitely gonna do it again next year," said owner Jonah Shalack. "It smelled nice. It was very easy to maintain. One of the great things about it is, it's delivered and it's picked up, so there's no extra work for us."

They purchased the tree from Roots for Christmas, a new business that delivers live, potted evergreens to be enjoyed through the holiday season and replants them after the weather breaks.

"We are a sustainable company that looks to develop solutions that can be meaningful and impact low income populations and communities, as well as have impact on the environment," said John Piercy, Neighbor Capital and Roots for Christmas.

Roots for Christmas is a joint venture between Neighbor Capital, which focuses on providing fresh produce in areas deemed food deserts, and Cob Connection, a social enterprise that specializes in job training and urban farming.

"Cob Connection is basically going to be in charge of planting the trees on the South and West sides of Chicago," said Shawnecee Schneider, Cob Connection. "So we've been a big part of the delivery and pickups of the live tree. We are going to be focusing on getting these trees in the ground come spring."

More than 100 trees will be planted mostly at schools and community-based organizations.

This is the first year of the program. This year the trees range from 4-to-6 feet tall. Organizers expect next year's batch will be bigger.

"It was important that we started with a tree that we felt was manageable, that had a smaller root ball that could be ok in the pot and that would also be more ideal as it's transitioning back into being planted," said Piercy.

They hope the customer base will grow larger too.

"Chicago does everything it can for recycling program, but there are still thousands and thousands of trees every year filling our landfills," said Piercy.

Next year, Roots for Christmas plans to rent trees to customers. That way you can potentially get the same tree from year to year and watch it grow over time.

To find out how to get a hold of them for next year, go to