It’s fitting that the last HOT Chat for the year is a Christmas-themed one. I found out about Eco Christmas Trees via Twitter and was immediately captured by the idea of  having a real live Christmas tree in my home, without the waste that goes into cutting down a tree and then disposing of it afterwards.

Eco Christmas Trees is effectively a tree rental service whereby you are delivered a live potted tree for Christmas and then it is taken away to be replanted, ready for use again next year (and the year after that, and the year after that….).  I have ordered my 1.75m Cypress for delivery next week but in the meantime today’s HOT Chat is with Anna Brockhurst, the founder of Eco Christmas Trees. Thanks Anna!

Anna, tell me a bit more about your background and how you came to start Eco Christmas Trees?

I am a freelance business consultant that works with businesses to help them manage changes successfully.  Last year whilst waiting for a project to commence I found I had some extra time leading up to Christmas and I decided to start a business to rent live potted Christmas trees.

It has always been a pet peeve of mine to see dead brown trees on the nature strip after Christmas.  They make me feel sad and frustrated at the disposable world we now live in. So I stopped moaning and started Eco Christmas trees to offer people a different option for their Christmas tree solution.  This way you can have your tree for Christmas without having to throw it away once you have done with it.

What makes your Christmas trees ‘eco’?

The eco refers to the living nature of our trees.  They are replanted after Christmas so your tree will continue to live and exchange CO2 into oxygen. Did you know that in one year, an average tree inhales 12 kilograms of CO2 and exhales enough oxygen for a family of four for a year! (Source United Nations Environment Programme).

By renting an Eco Christmas Tree, you don’t end a tree’s ecological cycle by cutting down a living tree, or impact green house emissions by the production of plastic.

Where do you source your trees?

Our trees come from growers local to Melbourne and are always unique to that year growing patterns.  For example this year has been so cold the trees are not as full as last year yet they are more whimsical and have more interesting shapes than the previous year.

What has been the most challenging thing you’ve faced in starting up your own business? What advice would you give to a small business owner?

After working in corporate environments for so long I found the personal nature of starting a small business quite challenging. An eco Christmas tree is not for everyone, and when you believe in something it’s hard to not think everyone will want one, or even that they might try one year and not take another in the next year.

You have to learn to trust what you are doing and not take things so personally.  Take the compliments and the enjoyment from the people who love it and ignore any criticism unless it’s constructive, this way you can use your energy in planning and moving forward rather than sweating the small stuff.

What are your next plans for Eco Christmas Trees?

I would love to take it to Sydney and Adelaide next year; plans are afoot which is exciting.

Finally, where are your favourite places to visit or things to do in Melbourne around Christmas time?

I have just spent most of this year in the UK working so I am craving decent coffee.  Oliv sells amazing olive oils and makes the best coffee (328 Auburn Road Hawthorn +61 3 9818 3122 ).

I am looking forward to a Christmas dinner with the girls at Ananda (197 Gertrude St, Fitzroy +61 3 9415 6101) and have been reminded of the funkiness of Melbourne with an always-delicious Thai dinner at Cookie (1/252 Swanston Street, Melbourne +61 3 9663 7660).