A cheap, easy way to bypass the ritual of throwing trees away is to bring fresh-cut branches into the home. In the L.A. area, many windswept branches can be gathered often from local parks in winter. Some residents have made a habit of collecting a few from their heavily-landscaped yard's trimmings, arranging them in a decorative container, and creating the illusion of a natural, tall tree in the home.
Complete with lights and ornaments, these Martha Stewart-like arrangements can be chic and festive, not to mention alive with the good feeling of letting that which is thriving stay alive. While it is true that many Christmas trees come from years of growing on tree farms, it is becoming clearer and more important that every tree living, no matter the owner, contributes to global cooling.
Perhaps conscious consumers can help phase out the Christmas tree industry into thriving nurseries, where trees go to a home to stay, and are allowed--in the appropriate wild, or in a planter--to live out their full years. Perhaps science can help to transition this old practice into a holiday that works for everyone on the planet, including tree farmers.