Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Christmas Tree Debate

Good Morning!  Many years ago, we had a live Christmas tree that we had taken out of the house on New Year's Eve.  We had taken great care of the tree while it was in the house, so I didn't think it was all that dry.  That evening at a neighbors bonfire my husband casually tossed our tree onto the fire.  It immediately shot flames about 20 feet in the air!  We all jumped back in surprise, we thought we were going to start a forest fire; we all just stood there in awe for a few seconds.  I couldn't believe that this fire hazard had just been in my living room that very same day.
Needless to say, I bought an artificial tree that year when they were on sale!  It is a very cute tree, that is pre-lit, but after many years of cats climbing it and being weighed down with what seems like hundreds of adorable school made ornaments, the tree is looking a little worse for the wear.  So, this year I am considering a live tree again.  I really miss the smell, not the mess of the pine needles though.  I thought I'd do some research to see which is the most environmentally friendly choice to help me make my decision.
I was a little surprised to find out that real trees win out on this one.  Artificial trees are made with plastic and can not be recycled, so they are looking at many lifetimes in the landfill.  The majority of fake trees are shipped from China (oh, you know how I hate that!) which makes their carbon footprint quite high in just getting into our living rooms.  Even if a tree has to come from a tree farm a couple of states away, it is a much smaller carbon footprint than from across a few oceans.
Another pleasant surprise that I found at one of my favorite websites,, was how beneficial Christmas tree farming is to Americans.  Here is an excerpt from their article:
A single farmed tree absorbs more than 1 ton of CO2 throughout its lifetime. With more than 350 million real Christmas tress growing in U.S. tree farms alone, you can imagine the yearly amount of carbon sequestering associated with the trees. Additionally, each acre of trees produces enough oxygen for the daily needs of 18 people.

In order to ensure a healthy supply of Christmas trees each year, growers must use sustainable farming techniques. For each tree harvested, one to three seedlings are planted the following spring, ensuring a healthy supply of trees.

According to the NCTA, the Christmas tree industry employs more than 100,000 Americans, an important economic consideration in the real versus artificial debate.

Obviously, the Christmas tree that is the easiest on Mother Earth is the tree that you plant when you are done with it.  Even if you are unable to replant it yourself, many municipalities will take them as a donation to beutify your town.  If this is not an option for you due to frozen grounds, space limitations, and you do not have a municipality to donate to, think about taking a family trip to the nearest National Forest cutting area and cut a tree for yourself.  You are helping maintain the forest, and you've had a great family outing in the process.

No matter where you get your live tree, make sure to recycle it.  Check with your city and see if they have a recycling center, and they will turn it into beneficial mulch and either give it back to its citizens or use it themselves.  Another great idea is to find a farm with animals that will enjoy the treat, my llamas look forward to Christmas all year long!

Make a miracle today!

1 comment:

Daisy said...

Real tree - definitely. We don't use our fireplace while the tree is up. the tree only stays up for three weeks, tops, and that' probably plenty.