Eco Christmas tree by Buro North


Australian graphic designers Buro North claim their plywood Christmas tree is "80% more environmentally friendly" than a traditional fir or spruce.

Available in three sizes, the flat-packed tree can be used year after year.

Here's some info from Buro North:


Our ‘Green’ X-Mas tree is 80% more environmentally friendly than a traditional pine X-Mas tree. Firstly, it is made with environmentally aware ingredients, they are CNC routered (a low-energy production technique) with waste material minimised by design, the flat-packed tree is emissions-efficient to transport and the most sustainable feature of the ‘Green’ tree is that you can use it for many Christmases to come…


A copy of the life cycle assessment report can be downloaded from the website.

Posted by Rose Etherington

Posted on Tuesday December 4th 2007 at 10:37 pm by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • yeah… but it’s not a Christmas tree.

  • Sam

    80% more efficient?

    If you were to grow a tree chop it down and burn it, it is considered to be carbon neutral. So if buy a Christmas tree transport it and compost it is carbon what ? put it in land fill it is carbon what?

    Now chop down an established 20+ year old pine, transport it, mill it, load it up with formaldehyde, transport it, laser cut it / router it ( more waste) and transport it again. it carbon what?

    Sure the life span may if cared for will be much longer than your natural tree , but it can it be thicker than 6mm ply and that strong, 15 years… BS!?

    The life cycle assessment seems to start as if there material (plywood and an unprocessed tree ) is the start? How can something made out of the same material with more processing be more efficient?

    It is hard to tell but there could be al0t of waste material in this. plywood waste is alot worse than all natural unprocessed solid timber waste.

    i spy greenwashing, and a huge cost difference.

    Nice Design though!!!

  • Nuno

    Eco Christmas tree by a graphic designer. This made me laugh as hell!!!

    Alright, I think graphic designers will save the world with their pseudo industrial design skills…. not!

    The name of this should be ‘Christmas tree by Buro North’ and not ‘Eco Christmas tree’. Lame!

  • JImmy

    Its horrible.

  • Dan

    Haha – Now lets send it via airplane all over the world to every eco-ego-graphic-designer who must have the latest wank of consumerism.

    Classic ECO-JUNK

  • Mayor McCheese

    you ruined Christmas !!! It’s ugly and joyless and you’re ghey.

  • Nuno

    P.S. – people are getting tired of this eco-stuff bandwagon. I mean… 95% oF the designers that make “eco design” just care about their own profit and publicity. We need REAL designers, with REAL will to make REAL eco design.

    Not graphic designers wankers that think they are industrial designers bringing this kind of crap…

  • I have a lot of respect for the previous work of Buro North… but I think this one is a gaff. Surely the first question that should be asked by eco-efficient design types is, ‘Is this thing necessary?’…. and er… I think a $1700 fake tree fails this basic test. A tree in a pot which lives outside for most of the year then comes inside for a few days works pretty well…. pretty good on emissions as well.

  • J

    80% more environmentally friendly, 100% more ugly.

  • James

    haha looks like a coat rack…

  • I’m sorry, but this is indeed a much better product in environmental terms than a pine tree. Not only because in transportation and raw material usage is much more efficient, but because the impacts related to pine growth and processing are significant and the plywood version would reduce this dramatically by lasting longer.

    In addition to that, the correct comparison would be to other reusable products, such as the plastic Christmas trees, and nobody would argue that those have a much larger impact.

    What I read above is people suspicious of any eco-claim, which is very healthy, but also quite uninformed. As anything else in life, an uninformed disqualification is as harmful as green washing.

  • designjourn

    I find the ‘agenda’ and ‘selling’of eco design all abit wishy washy to be honest. Its a case of what your willing to tell people. . . or not as this case may be.

    When eco design becomes your selling point and hence the marketing advantage over other products, it’s VITALLY important that ALL aspects of the design process are considered, not just the positive points.

    Formeldahyde isn’t exactly the kindest of materials especially when the offcuts are left outside to leach into the ground like this . . .

    Eco-Friendly ? make up your own mind . . .

  • Tony//igloo Australia

    I gotta say good on ya BN for your tree.

    1- you got off you’re arse and created something with (hopefully) good intentions- a feat that most people just spend their wholel lives talking about

    2 – i rekon it looks good – far better than the plastic crap my mrs insists on pulling out each year

    3- ok so using the ‘eco’ word has attracted a bit of attention. we all know its not as eco as having a real tree that you bring into your house for a couple of days then take outside for the rest of they ear but
    -its better than most purchased plastic crappy trees (well it looks better anyway)
    -its better than clearing land every couple of years causing erosion and destruction of wildlife so people can have a pine in their house for a few weeks isn’t it?

    good on ya

  • KOTO

    Yuk! I’d rather have no tree at all. This thing is scary…reminds me of a skeleton

  • Upon reading the bloggers generous feedback to Buro’s Green Tree… a couple of things have become clear to us (the Buro team).

    1. Most of our critics above have not read the in-depth Life Cycle Assessment report about said tree available at which clearly illustrates the trees eco-performance in terms of energy use, water and greenhouse emissions.

    2. Most are unaware that the Buro North Studio is 50 % qualified graphic designers and 50 % qualified industrial designers… additionally, the expertise of a Life Cycle Assessment guru from the RMIT centre for design (who actually writes LCA programs for designers – aka he’s the guru to the experts) and a PhD student currently researching sustainable consumption were called upon to assist in the development of this project. The Buro Graphic designers did the packaging, but the Industrial designers created the tree…

    Now for those that won’t be trawling through the report, we’ll summarize; the locally-sourced plantation pine was the most ecologically sound option AVAILABLE… it’s the best of a bad lot. As any designer who has seriously engaged in the task of designing for sustainability knows, sometimes the material choices are significantly limited, and there is not always a clear winner. But we can assure you that the wastage was minimised (as seen in the image attached by designjourn), the CNC machining process employed to create the tree was the most energy efficicient… and every detail of this design has been considered, including the Forestry Stewardship Certified paper through to the vegetable ink used for printing. And despite the incredible financial incentives to manufacture and import from China, the tree was manufactured and packaged locally and ethically. They would have been a sixth of the cost if made in China, sold in their millions and we’d be having our Christmas party in Hawaii… so clearly, we’re not in it for the glory of financial gains, but trying to challenge our capacity to create sustainable design outcomes through our self-funded studio projects.

    So is this greenwash, or solid contribution to designing for sustainability at the current time?!

    To contextualise the intention of the tree further… obviously, creating product to replace product does not radically challenge ecologically-damaging consumerism, but it does get a conversation going (clearly) and that’s very important at this time when designers are making a shift from designing to feed the consumerist beast (or their ego), to designing for sustainability. So the tree is in part, an awareness-raising strategy.

    The cost of the tree has come under fire and safe to say, getting people to tie up their money in expensive, long-lasting goods is an excellent form of sustainable consumption because they won’t have the funds to buy all the other unsustainable shite they would get their hands on others wise- as people spend proportionately to what they earn.

    To those that don’t think our tree looks so sexy, we are sorry and will try harder next time….

    Thanks for the feedback and particularly to the designjourn for bringing that to our attention, we’ll be in contact with our manufacturers immediately (they work saturdays.!.) to ensure the off-cuts are recycled appropriately.

  • JImmy

    Good on this Tony.

  • oxo

    no more sustainability, please!!! btw, how it could be sustainable if I can order your tree from australia to europe? Will you bring me the tree on your back? Make it open source and than it’ll be at least friendly if not eco-friendly. If we canceled christmas than it would be sustainable without consuption all of the enrgy and useless gifts.

  • Luke

    Heaps nice. Compared to the fugly christmas crap out there, this is the only aesthetically, and maybe environmentally clean option I’ve seen. Well done and nice answer from the horses mouth above!

  • Arge

    Good effort committing to an LCA report. Nice piece of sculpture. Funny tree. Excellent dialogue starter.

  • Heather

    OK, so you’ve got to make it easier to buy one of these…..nice, big, fat link, please!

  • MartyMan

    “The cost of the tree has come under fire and safe to say, getting people to tie up their money in expensive, long-lasting goods is an excellent form of sustainable consumption because they won’t have the funds to buy all the other unsustainable shite they would get their hands on others wise- as people spend proportionately to what they earn.”

    Haha, nice one.

    Tell you what, give me 10 grand and I can save you from spending anything on unsustainable shite. And I’ll plant a tree in your name. A real one. :-)

  • Candy

    interesting design-what about a more lighter form like aluminum?

  • Great stuff! Keep the trees in the forest!

  • up

    I am against the living pine, is an excellent replacement.

  • Marit

    This is the most beautiful christmastree ever! I feel so bad for cutting down a new tree each year, but would never buy a plastic tree. This I wish to buy!