There are so many decisions you need to make this holiday season. Should you get Aunt Mildred a sweater like you do every year or surprise her with that toaster she has been wanting? Should you stay home to celebrate the holidays in a quiet way or travel cross country to spend time with your relatives? Should you go to your office holiday party or your spouse’s office party (which have once again been scheduled for the same evening)? Doubtless you have tons of decisions just like these to make this holiday season, but you likely have been debating in your head about what type of Christmas tree to get, too.
Most families have a certain time-honored holiday tradition when it comes to Christmas trees. Some families dig their Christmas tree out of a box in the attic or basement while others trudge through snow and ice to find the perfect real tree to bring home and decorate. With the thankfully ever-growing public focus on the environment, it is important to take a breather from your busy holiday season schedule and really think about if a real tree or a fake tree is the more eco-friendly choice. Here are some things to consider:
Fake Tree. The good thing about a fake tree is that you can use the same fake tree over and over again for years. So you don’t have to waste gas driving around town in search of the perfect tree. You just have to dig the tree’s box out of storage and start re-assembling it for the year. There are several drawbacks to consider, though. First, the tree itself is made of plastic, which is of course comprised of petroleum. Second, it cannot be recycled, so when it’s time to replace it because it’s worn and tattered, you have no choice to but toss it into the trash. It will inevitably take years upon years to decompose and will release toxins into the air as it does so. Further, these trees often come with lights already installed for you. While this is a time-saving measure that is a blessing in a busy holiday season, it also leaves you with no choice for buying more energy-efficient lights for the tree.
Real Tree. Most people will pick up a real tree at either the first or second tree retailer they see. This may be at a grocery store or local retail store, or it may be at a tree stand on the side of the road. While it’s great that you are saving gas by picking up your tree close to home, you don’t know where the trees themselves were actually grown. If you live in Louisiana and are buying a tree that was shipped all the way from Washington state, that’s not exactly an eco-friendly option. You would do better to call ahead to a few tree retailers and ask where their trees are shipped from.
Another option for getting a real tree is to drive to a local tree farm. Most mid to larger-sized cities have at least a few tree farms nearby, and they largely allow you to cut down your own tree. This means that trees that aren’t selected can continue to grow. Further, you have no doubt about where your tree was grown, and you are sure to get a local tree.
A real tree is often a better choice because these are trees that are grown on farms, whether local or farther away, for the sole purpose of being someone’s Christmas tree. After they are cut down, new trees are replanted to replace them. You can select eco-friendly lights to decorate them with. When the holiday season is over, you can find a local organization that will dispose of your tree in an eco-friendly way. Many cities have organizations that will mulch up your old Christmas tree and use the mulch for landscaping projects around town.
Give Mother Earth a little holiday present this season by thinking of her when you pick out your Christmas tree!