If you have been wondering whether to get a real, cut Christmas tree or an artificial one, you need to consider the environmental impact that both options pose. Finding the most eco-friendly alternative (besides not having any tree at all, of course) can indeed be tricky. But perhaps you didn't know that there are more choices than just the fake tree and the natural (cut) tree. Read on to find out about Christmas trees, their environmental impact, and the 'eco-friendlie'r alternatives that are available.
Traditional Tree Options:
1. Artificial Christmas Trees
Fake Christmas trees, in spite of their enormous popularity in this country, truly are the worst environmental option. Artificial trees are made of PVC (i.e. vinyl, one of the worst plastics invented because of its high level of dioxins emissions during manufacturing and recycling- when it is recycled at all). Most of them also contain steel and lead, a toxic metal used to stabilize the PVC, and that can come off the tree and be breathed in, causing damage to the brain, among others. Finally, artificial Christmas trees all end up, sooner or later, in a landfill taking up space (beingÂ non biodegradable) and polluting the ground (lead leeching out of the PVC). So, the personal convenience of taking a fake Christmas tree out of the closet every year really should not take precedence over environmental and health issues faced by all.
2. Real, Cut Christmas Trees
As for the real, cut Christmas tree, it is not without its own environmental downsides: pesticides and herbicides are used to grow them conventionally so an organically-grown one, from a small-scale sustainable grower should be preferred. While being, of course, a natural product and hence biodegradable, cut Christmas trees are charged of releasing carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, when they are mulched up and decompose. Using a tree for only two or three weeks a year also seems to be such a waste of resources, from growing it to transporting it to disposing of it. When not recycled as yard waste, they end up in already overcrowded landfills.
Eco Responsible Tree Options:
1. Real, Potted Christmas Trees
There is another, more environmentally responsible alternative: buying a potted tree. Potted trees will live beyond the holiday season and will â€œgive backâ€, as they can be donated to organizations and planted in parks, watersheds or burn areas wiped out after a fire. Or you can also plant it in your own garden, climate, space and landscape permitting. You can either buy the potted tree in a store, or go through one of three foundations who offer convenient delivery and pick-up services:Â the Adopt A Christmas Tree Foundation based in San Diego, The Original Living Christmas Tree Company, (a Portland based company) and Friends of the Urban Forest, based in San Francisco. Convenience and environmental responsibility come at a price: expect to pay at least $80 and up to $150 for a tree.Â All three have a wide variety of trees, from California redwoods to sequoias to Nordmann firs and more.
2. Rent Your Live Christmas Tree
If that option doesnâ€™t suit you, there is yet another, new service available: renting a Christmas tree through a company such as The Living Christmas Company. This will cost you less than actually buying a tree (prices start at $50 for a 2-3 ft sequoia), and you can rent the same tree year after year (up until the tree is 7 years old).
3. Creative Choices
There are other, more economical and environmentally-friendly options, such as decorating a living exterior tree or decorating a house plant. If you have children and you enjoy crafts projects,Â you can also make your own tree: a cardboard tube can make the trunk while green paint handprints on paper, cut out and turned upside down can, represent leaves. You can add handprints year after year, making your tree â€œgrowâ€.
Whatever option you choose should be a conscientious one. But while you are mulling over it, if at all, check out these 10 Biggest Myths about Christmas Trees, it might help you make a decision.
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