The Larnaca Christmas Tree: A Can-Do Project

Can tree FI

The turkey is down to bones, and even the cranberry salad is gone. Black Friday and Cyber Monday are distant memories (at least until the credit card bill arrives) and now it’s time for thoughts of Christmas … in case you hadn’t heard.

And after the Jolly Ol’ Elf himself, one of the most popular symbols of the season is the Christmas tree. Coming in all shapes, sizes, and styles, each one represents warm memories of family, friends, and pleasant, relaxing times in special places.

Discovering new interpretations of this centuries-old tradition is always a treat, such as the towering tree on the beach promenade in Larnaca, Cyprus. Amazingly, it’s entirely constructed from recycled plastic bottles and cans!

Larnaca tall can tree

This tree is remarkable for a number of reasons. First, someone came up with the idea and actually brought it to fruition. Imagine trying to sell this idea to your boss.

Next, envision collecting and sorting just the RIGHT type of bottles and cans, with the correct color.

Can tree closeup

Then engineers enter the picture, and determine how this incredible collection of trash can be lashed together to survive the holidays on a windy beach. It has all the marks of a team effort, and Christmas is nothing, if not about togetherness.


It isn’t traditional, but it’s beautiful at night with lights shining through labels of Coke, 7Up and Sunkist. City officials deserve a pat on the back for their imagination. This festive tree sends a clear message of conservation, and adds a bit of joie de vivre to the beach.

IMG_3807 - Version 3

Good luck finding (or building) your perfect tree.

Happy Trails,

P.S. Coincidentally, we were there on the day they disassembled the tree. And guess what? Everything went into city recycling bins.


We're Terri and James Vance - high school sweethearts who went on to international careers and became world nomads. Today, 65 countries later, we're still traveling ... and still in love. Check out Our Story for more of the backstory at

24 thoughts

  1. What a great post and what a clever use of plastic bottles and tin cans. Very clever indeed. Cheers to you for posting and cheers also to the amazing people that thought up and designed this Yuletide masterpiece.

    1. Thanks, and I agree that this tree is very clever. As I stood there looking at it, I just kept wondering how much energy sorting all the different colors must have been. Amazing. ~James

    1. Thanks Tom. The sound was amazing. And actually, it was one of those sounds that the people with beachside condos nearby probably got very tired of. BTW, I thought of you this very morning. While I jogged, I listened to and enjoyed a podcast of Snap Judgement. It was the one on aliens. If you haven’t heard it, check it out. Thanks for the recommendation. ~James

  2. I ran a monthly community recycling drive once upon a time in my youth, so I always enjoy seeing a creative use for recycled products, James. And the tree is beautiful. In Kodiak, where Peggy and I were this summer, they make an annual art piece out trash they collect off the beaches. It’s both art and a reminder. –Curt

    1. You’re right Curt, this is a great, artful reminder. In addition, the practical pudknocker in me thought that it was also a pretty good engineering feat. It took lots of coordination and planning to build this tree, but it also took some decent engineering to hold it together on a very windy beach. ~James

  3. Amazing! I’m such a fan of art made from “trash,” and this is one of the most impressive. (I also like the idea of Christmas not requiring anything new to be festive!)

    1. Miranda, in addition to being a cool recycling project, there were a couple of spotlights inside the tree which made it very colorful at night as well. Very green this tree – and in Larnaca of all places. ~James

  4. Shame to take it back down! Full marks to Larnaca for forward thinking.
    Merry Christmas to you and Terri, James 🙂 I’m a little early but I may not get round everybody!

  5. I should donate my saved beer bottle caps to them. I’ll bet they could make a stunning star topper with them for this beauty! (Not that I’m admitting to Big D and me drinking a lot of beer this year … 😉 )

    1. Anita, I agree with recycling for a couple of reasons. The most important being keeping the recyclables out of the landfill. But on a personal level, it helps to have the recycle bin taken away each week so there’s no mountain of evidence of my overconsumption of anything. Happy Holidays to you and Big D. ~James

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