Is A Real Christmas Tree Better for the Environment than an Artificial One?
The answer may surprise you
So, do you think it is better for the environment to buy an artificial tree or a real Christmas tree? The answer, it may surprise you to learn, is to buy a real tree. Real Christmas tree growth supports forestry, which fights climate change. Even though your tree has been cut down, it took about six to ten years to grow it, and one to three more trees are planted when it is harvested. Multiply that by tens or even hundreds of thousands and consider the trees still growing in the Christmas tree farms, and that’s a lot of oxygen being created.
You may argue that artificial trees can be used over and over. Yes, they can be, and if you already have one, you will need to use it for twelve years to even begin to bring the carbon footprint to the level of using one real tree, and even then, an artificial tree cannot be recycled and it is not biodegradable. Every year ten million artificial trees are sold, about ninety percent of them coming from China, and all of them eventually headed for a landfill. If you already have an artificial tree and you want to get a real one this year, don’t throw the artificial one away. Keep it in the attic and hope for a chance to gift it to a charity or use it some year if you can’t afford a real one, but if you have the option between buying a real or artificial tree, the choice is clear. Buying a real tree is a gift to the planet.
A real tree can last around five weeks in your home if you properly care for it, and buy it when it is fresh on the lot. Look for one that is in the shade and has few yellow needles on it. When you examine it, run your bare hand along a branch and see if it feels soft and springy and does not shed needles into your hands. Pick it up from the middle and let it drop onto the ground and notice how many needles fall from it, if it sheds a lot, it is either too old, or has been stored improperly. When you have found the right tree, ask if the seller can saw off about an inch from the base of the tree in case resin has built up there, that would impede the flow of fresh water up into the tree. If he can’t, do it at home or try to get someone to do it for you. Keep plenty of water in the stand when you get it put up at home.
When the air in your home is infused with the scent of evergreen, it really feels like Christmas. If you have children, you may want to keep some simple art supplies handy so they can make decorations near the tree, you will treasure these in years to come, no matter what they look like now, and so will the creators. Christmas music and hot chocolate will not be unappreciated under the twinkling lights. Traditions can be made no matter what kind of tree you have.
When the holidays are over, and it’s time to take down your decorations, your real tree has yet another incarnation and contribution to the environment. Make a few calls to your civic center and see if there is a program or programs going on for the reuse of real trees. Sometimes real Christmas trees are used by the community to sink into lakes to create new underwater environments, or by parks to turn into mulch. If for some reason you can’t find one, you can make your own mulch or use the tree as compost, a birdfeeder or many other creative ways in your garden.
No matter what kind of Christmas tree you use this Holiday season, all the best to you and yours, and please continue to help the earth and all her inhabitants.