Christmas Trees as a Service

While I sat in the snarl of traffic caused by an abandoned Christmas tree on the interstate this afternoon I thought about the possibility of approaching the problem of Christmas tree dumping from a service design perspective.

Several days earlier I noticed a tell-tale path of evergreen needles leading down the staircase from a rogue apartment in my building out onto the sidewalk just beyond the front door where a Christmas tree had completed the subtle semantic shift from cherished holiday totem to unwanted fire-hazard. Barren trees are easy to spot all around the city. When I lived in the midwest the intersections of rural roads invariably became dumping grounds every January.

There are laws in some countries that impose responsibility for the costs of collecting, managing, and disposing of home appliances on manufacturers and distributors. A similar type of “life-cycle” responsibility could be built into Christmas tree distribution.

Christmas tree recycling programs already exist and tree delivery is a popular service, especially in cities where residents don’t own SUVs to cart their purchase home. It seems like it wouldn’t be a stretch to combine delivery and removal into a full service offering, either built into the enterprise or in partnership with the city. Brand the distributor logo and the purchaser’s phone number into the base of the tree for delivery (and accountability) and include a biodegradable Christmas tree bag along with another number to call for hassle-free pickup.

  1. hey jeff, we actually used a service much like you describe in our studio this year: pines and needles

  2. Jeff

    What a great name for a service! Thanks for the tip. Now I just need to get them to deliver to San Francisco…

  3. Can you tell Pines and Needles for how many days you would like to have the tree? So you can arrange everything at ones? That would be great. I’m always putting things off.

  4. Jeff

    From their website it looks like you can schedule the exact date of pickup, or call them to schedule an impromptu pickup if they happen to be in the area.

    For something like this to work in the US, I think it’d almost have to be integrated into the existing patterns of behavior so that families could still pick out their tree in person and make it an event, with the service centering around that experience. Then have the option of an add-on service for delivery and pickup, with some built-in features to discourage abandonment.

    For businesses the whole thing seems a little less magical, like scheduling custodial service for your office.

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