The “Greener” Christmas Tree

Now that Thanksgiving is out of the way, Christmas is right around the corner. As everyone adapts to the holiday spirit the foundation behind any Christmas is a good Christmas tree. Now for those of you who are trying your best to go green you may wonder, is a real or fake tree better for the environment? With all of the various options available we can see why this would be a troubling question.

On one side you have the fresh real thing straight from mother earth, which is the choice of approximately 29 million households, according to the National Christmas Tree Associations. Yes, it is a real thing, I checked for myself. The majority of Christmas trees are grown on farms for this purpose, meaning deforestations is no longer an issue. However, the trees do have to be shipped from the farms to sites that are often long distances. On top of that, they also require pesticide and fueled vehicles to maintain and ultimately will end up in landfills.

On the other hand you have the fake artificial thing which is mostly made in China, most likely from oil-derived, pollution releasing polyvinyl chloride (PVC). A number of them have been found to contain lead which will contaminate the earth when resting in landfills for centuries. Nearly 70% of Americans will chose the artificial route this Christmas.

People campaigning on going with an artificial tree are most likely going to point out the one time purchase aspect. With a one time purchase gas will be saved that would otherwise be used for an annual trip to the tree farm. The savings could add up over the years to make up for the original production and shipping cost of the tree alone. That is only if your family keeps the tree in good condition over the years. It is all too often that families decide to upgrade to a fancier or bigger tree with little regard for their current one.

Now that both sides have weighed in what is the greenest choice for this holiday season? It depends on a number of factors, including where you live, how you celebrate, and precisely what you buy. Sorry to say it, but there isn’t a universal answer. It is OK though don’t panic, there are still some options to make sure you are at least trying to go green when purchasing either type of Christmas tree.

Those of you who are a fan of the real tree, here are some things to consider when you are buying. Try to find a tree that is locally grown and organic. This will cut down on the CO2 emissions and help prevent environmental degradation process that is caused by pesticides. When you are finished with your tree do your best to make sure it is converted to mulch or compost.

If the real thing isn’t your style and you prefer an artificial one, there are still some factors to be considered. Do your best to try to find an artificial tree manufactured in the U.S. This will decrease the chances for contamination from lead and other toxins immensely, all while preserving domestic manufacturing jobs and reducing shipping costs. If you must get rid of an old artificial tree, make sure to check with local charities, churches, and shelters to see if they can reuse it. Most recycling programs do not accept them and if thrown away they will take centuries to degrade in landfills.

Looking for an even more “green” answer? Then buy a Christmas tree that is a living, plantable bulb inside a pot. Inside the tree can be decorated just like any other Christmas tree and then when there is no longer use it can be planted outside. This will help our planet decrease global warming and provide habitats for wildlife. Or you can save all your money and use a tree that is already outside. Sure, I doubt you want to open your presents on the front lawn, but perhaps there is one close enough to a window to get the job done.

Whatever your choice for a Christmas tree this holiday season try your best to keep our planet in mind. Make sure this Christmas is a green one and keep up the giving spirit, by giving back to our planet. You can also give back to our planet and a support a charity this holiday season by donating your small electronics with Recycling for Charities.

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