Each year we ask ourselves, which type of Christmas tree is more eco-friendly — one that's real, or fake? One option requires cutting down a living tree, but the other is made of tons of plastics and chemicals. So, what's the verdict this year? Check out Grist's take, after the jump.
The short answer is, live trees are greener. The longer answer is, entire industries are waging battle over this question, the greenness of any tree is questionable, and it may be in our best interests to, ahem, bough out. Let's take a closer look.
With live trees, our primary concerns are the chemicals used to grow them, the road miles they travel before we buy them, and the environmental impact of cutting down a perfectly good tree. We can address these concerns by looking for trees grown organically and locally, and by taking comfort in the fact that when we support Christmas tree farms, we oppose the parking lots and megamalls that would gladly take their places. Also, if we choose a live tree, we can recycle or mulch it when our celebrations have ended.
With artificial trees, our worries fall into surprisingly similar categories, but with more dastardly details. The chemicals used to "grow" them include PVC (yes, even in the newer "hyper-realistic" polyethylene models) and sometimes lead. They travel many thousands of miles to get to us, almost always from China. And their environmental impact is that they never, ever biodegrade. To say nothing of the fact that they are made and sold by global corporations, if you need a reason to Occupy Your Holiday.
Grist also makes some great eco-friendly suggestions for using real trees:
- Get a permit to cut a tree on National Forest land, thus helping with needed maintenance.
- Choose a living tree and plant it later.
- Rent a living tree that will be planted later (currently an option in Oregon and California).
- Buy and decorate a potted (and therefore reusable) Norfolk pine.
- Build your own tree from pruned branches and chicken wire.
Read More: Which Christmas tree is the greenest? at Grist
Here our ideas for great Christmas tree alternatives:
(Image: Re-Nest via Wood & Wool Stool)