A Christmas Tree Rental Service

These days, you can rent just about everything—Segways, leprechauns, little people, sheep, dogs. And here in the UK, a very clever and environmentally concerned businessman came up with a brilliant idea: Rent out Christmas trees for the holiday season.

The whole thing works like this: The renter orders a tree, choosing between three models (the Fraser fir, the Norway spruce, and the Nordmann fir), in sizes between 5 and 8 feet tall. The tree is then delivered to the customer's door in a pot, most of its roots intact, and bearing special tree food that will keep it healthy during its stint indoors. When Christmas is over, the presents all opened, the seeds of familial angst sown, grown and harvested, and life settles back down to normal, the trees are taken back to the wild, where they can be enjoyed by wildlife and humans who prefer their trees in the ground for another year.

Martin Cake (pictured) is the man behind the plan, the self-styled Christmas Tree Man who spent 20 years as a tree surgeon before starting the company.

He launched the business in late 2008, and currently owns a 500-tree farm in Dorset. Cakes says that his dream is a Christmas that sees the survival of all trees—a tree, his website says, is for life, not just for Christmas. And renting a living tree is a positive step towards preserving the environment, and is even safer than cut trees—they're less likely to tip over, owing to the heavy pots they live in, and less likely to catch fire, since they're not all dried out. Even better, minimal shedding.

The trees actually spend most of their lives in the pots they arrive at your door in and are kept alive by a drip-feed water system. If you become attached to a particular tree, Cake will tag it so you can rent it again the following year. Once it gets too big for home use, which will ultimately happen, the trees can move on to bigger environs, such as schools and businesses.

Thus far, the jury is out on whether we'll be ordering our tree from the Christmas Tree Man. My husband isn't yet convinced that my motives are actually environmental concern and not just because I saw this cool thing on the Internet. But it's either this, or I'm dressing the cat in green felt and sticking a star on his head. And evidently, it isn't a bit premature to start thinking about where our tree will be coming from—without the dam of Thanksgiving, Christmas madness actually started flowing back in early October here in the UK. They take these things very seriously over here.
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Does a service like this exist in the US? Anyone ever tried it?


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Netflix's Most-Binged Shows of 2017, Ranked

Netflix might know your TV habits better than you do. Recently, the entertainment company's normally tight-lipped number-crunchers looked at user data collected between November 1, 2016 and November 1, 2017 to see which series people were powering through and which ones they were digesting more slowly. By analyzing members’ average daily viewing habits, they were able to determine which programs were more likely to be “binged” (or watched for more than two hours per day) and which were more often “savored” (or watched for less than two hours per day) by viewers.

They found that the highest number of Netflix bingers glutted themselves on the true crime parody American Vandal, followed by the Brazilian sci-fi series 3%, and the drama-mystery 13 Reasons Why. Other shows that had viewers glued to the couch in 2017 included Anne with an E, the Canadian series based on L. M. Montgomery's 1908 novel Anne of Green Gables, and the live-action Archie comics-inspired Riverdale.

In contrast, TV shows that viewers enjoyed more slowly included the Emmy-winning drama The Crown, followed by Big Mouth, Neo Yokio, A Series of Unfortunate Events, GLOW, Friends from College, and Ozark.

There's a dark side to this data, though: While the company isn't around to judge your sweatpants and the chip crumbs stuck to your couch, Netflix is privy to even your most embarrassing viewing habits. The company recently used this info to publicly call out a small group of users who turned their binges into full-fledged benders:

Oh, and if you're the one person in Antarctica binging Shameless, the streaming giant just outed you, too.

Netflix broke down their full findings in the infographic below and, Big Brother vibes aside, the data is pretty fascinating. It even includes survey data on which shows prompted viewers to “Netflix cheat” on their significant others and which shows were enjoyed by the entire family.

Netflix infographic "The Year in Bingeing"


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