In the land of all things possible, there’s a new player on the field and his name is Scotty Claus. He’s a happy, vibrant and devilishly handsome elf of a man in a 3-foot long Santa hat and he wants to rent you a Christmas tree.
I met Scotty last year at the Farmers’ Market on Main Street and was instantly drawn to his infectious laughter, the joyful way he interacted with shoppers and his company’s product — rented Christmas trees.
This year I wanted to write about his company, so I set up an interview. It turns out that this is no ordinary seasonal organization hoping to make a buck off the false camaraderie of the season.
The Living Christmas Co. (www.livingchristmas.com) is based in Carson, Calif. — ironically on a Shell Oil refinery. It turns out that Scotty Claus is actually a landscape architect by trade and wanted to create a company that can use urban infill as a site for his movable nursery. In much the same way as the land under freeway overpasses and under electrical wires is used by more traditional nurseries, Scotty Claus figured that since his trees were in pots, they could be on any type of land, whether paved or not.
His idea was to create a working model for Christmas tree rental companies that can be transplanted to other markets and states, thus reducing the destruction of trees, increasing the availability of jobs, helping to green the surrounding area and be beneficial to those who are underprivileged. This is one intelligent operation doing good on many different levels.
The trees for rent include five types of pine that are suitable for the area. His full-time greens-keepers are drawn from Social Vocational Services designed to rehabilitate or train those who may not have a strong employment background. Giving a job to those who are underprivileged, and teaching them a skillset, is part of the mission of The Living Christmas Co.
Being good by doing good seems to be the way that Scotty Claus operates. As this season progresses, his elves will again be picking up donations for Goodwill Industries as they drop off your Christmas tree. Last year they picked up 900 pounds of donations for the Goodwill.
And that’s not all. When they come to pick up your tree, they will also pick up bags of used wrapping paper, which the Goodwill then shreds in their Shred for Good program, which The Living Christmas Co. will use to pack their Christmas ornaments that they sell next year.
The beauty of the tree rental program is that you can adopt a tree and have it returned to you year after year, each tree is bar-coded for identification. This allows you to take those holiday pictures in front of “your” tree and see it grow each year along with your family. Which is a delightful way to mark the passage of time.
As the trees age out, they are donated by Scotty Claus to the Boy Scouts of America to be replanted in fire damaged areas. Last year alone almost 200 trees were donated, and replanted in the San Bernardino forest and surrounding areas.
The ornaments that are sold on the website are from Peru, Tibet and Guatemala. The lights are LEDs and the dough and paint for making your own ornaments are gluten free.
Scotty started out as a teenager delivering Christmas trees in the beach cities.
“It was so much fun! Everyone is happy to see the Christmas tree guys,” he said. Clearly that infectious fun set a path for the young man, who went on to become a landscape architect and found a company doing some great social work, and helping Californians to “change the way they celebrate Christmas.”
Rentals cost from $25 to $125 plus a shipping charge, which includes the pickup. So for about the same as you would normally spend, you get to have a tree delivered, keep it alive, and enjoy it again next year. Not a bad deal all around.
If you are going to get a tree this holiday season, I highly recommend that you rent a tree from The Living Christmas Co. (www.livingchristmas.com) to adorn with your family ornaments. It’s a delightful and environmentally-friendly solution to the annual tradition of killing living things to commemorate life. Plus the pine scent lasts longer, and you can start a fun tradition in your family.
David Pisarra is a divorce attorney who specializes in father’s rights and men’s issues with the firm of Pisarra & Grist in Santa Monica. He is the author of the upcoming, “A Man’s Guide To Child Custody.” You can pre-order the book by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or call (310) 664-9969.