Christmas is almost here, the peak of the season for Jonathan Mearns, who since 2017 has been renting out Christmas trees in London to his very happy clientele, who every year find their Christmas tree, which they even give… a name to.

In a previous life, Jonathan Mearns worked for the Scottish Anti-Terrorist Service, for which he had gone and lived in Africa. But in 2017, he started his business “London Christmas Tree Rental”. It was, as he himself recalls, today at the age of 49, a kind of psychotherapy.

This idea to rent Christmas trees was born during a walk in west London, he tells AFP.

“I saw all the Christmas trees that had been cut down, abandoned in the streets. I thought to myself there has to be a better way to do this.”

He explains to his customers how simple it is to rent a Christmas tree: “rent it, water it and bring it back after Christmas.” This allows us to reduce waste, he underlines.

“We offer customers the option to rent a live potted tree and get the same tree every year,” explained Jonathan Mearns. After Christmas, the tree is placed in an irrigation system on a farm in the Cutchwolds, west London.

Zero Waste

When customers want the same tree next year, a small tag hangs on the fir tree. Some give him a name: “Bruce the Spruce” or “Mr Sparkles”. “The joy is great when we see the children come back and find their tree again, which has definitely grown a bit!”, describes the 49-year-old. Some have been looking for and retrieving the same fir for 5 years.

A 1.5 meter tree costs 60 pounds (70 euros).

But Jonathan Mearns also recommends trees to new customers.

“More and more people are interested in renting out their Christmas tree,” he says happily. But his small business is so successful that he can’t keep up with the demand.

“Trees go really fast.”

Amber, a 25-year-old manager of a zero-waste store, arrived late last year. All the trees had been rented since October. This year, she rushed to get her tree in early fall.

“We really want a Christmas tree so we don’t waste and throw away,” he stressed.

Among the customers, Joe Potter, aged 36, explains that he would like “a real Christmas tree, but something more durable”. But, “there is so much garbage thrown away every year (…). It’s something that worries my family a lot.”

“We don’t want a fake Christmas tree, (…) but we also don’t want to buy one that we will throw away after a few weeks,” argues Athina Solaki, 36.

Alex Tutti, a 42-year-old lawyer, is happy to have found his tree, “Felicia”, who spent her first Christmas with the Tutti family during the pandemic.

“How big she’s grown!” he said before taking her with him.