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How to grow our land, not our landfill this Christmas

While Christmas can be an emotional time to bond with family and friends, exchanging presents to show just how much you appreciate each other, there's one consequence of the holiday season that often isn't considered until it's too late.

When the excitement has worn off and the wrapping paper has been stripped bare, mounds of junk and rubbish pile up and overflow onto the street.

But one charity is trying to turn the commercial culture of the holiday season on its head with a unique gift idea.

Trees That Count, a programme of the Project Crimson Trust, is on a mission to see millions more native trees planted in New Zealand. Their digital marketplace helps to increase native tree planting by connecting donors with planting groups.

Now they're hoping to cut down on some of the massive amounts of waste created at Christmas time and at the same time, offer a gift option perfect for your office Secret Santa.

"People are always wanting to give something at Christmas - whether it's for your colleagues at work, or that aunty who's hard to buy for... but there's so much junk that gets given," Trees That Count's Melanie Seyfort says.

"This Christmas we're saying why not think more mindfully about what you're giving and where it will end up. Let's grow our land rather than our landfill and gift a native tree that will be here for hundreds and hundreds of years."

According to, there's a major spike in rubbish thrown away over the summer break period. Kiwis throw out almost twice as much waste as usual in the week after Christmas.

Trees That Count has a simple solution. For $10, you can buy a native tree on behalf of someone you care about this Christmas. They'll be emailed a gift certificate and the tree will be planted for them.

It means no packaging and no rubbish to throw out as you clean up from the holiday - while actively helping New Zealand's environment at the same time.

"Native trees are inextricably linked to who we are as Kiwis," Ms Seyfort said.

"They pervade our heritage, from their role in our national myths and legends, to simply being part of the background to the everyday contemporary Kiwi lifestyle that we enjoy - like snoozing under branches on long hazy summer days, Christmas at the beach, baches and BBQs."

And it doesn't have to be just for the obvious environment-lover in your life.

"We want to build a culture where the planting or gifting of native trees becomes the Kiwi thing to do to celebrate occasions," Ms Seyfort said.

"Whether it's for your teacher, workmate or a new baby, why not leave the plastic on the shelf and give something that will live for hundreds of years?"

Gifting a native tree can be done from as little as $10 per tree, here.