It’s the holiday season, and you want to be green in your celebrations…
What do you do? REAL tree, ARTIFICIAL tree? How do you decide the guilt-free choice?
Jordan J. Ballor says “If you haven’t yet decided what kind of tree to put up, consider the truly environmentally-friendly choice: cutting down a live tree.”
Jordan argues that by supporting the family tree farms, you create yearly industry and that
“this is a clear case of fiscal incentive combining with an environmental interest to create a synergy of economic and ecologic good. We have good reason to think, therefore, that economic and environmental concerns shouldn’t be viewed as polar opposites, but rather complementary aspects of the same basic issue.”
I say boo. Family farm is not necessarily green… where is the conversation on chemical use? Chemicals that leach into our ground and water, kill off natural aspects of that ecosystem, and then sit and breathe out toxins into our home?
As Deidre Gill points out, “some growers use 40 different pesticides, as well as chemical colorants,” and she then shows how you can search for pesticide-free trees near you.
Also, Larry West writes about the biggest downside of real trees:
Because they are farmed as agricultural products, they often require repeated applications of pesticides over their typical eight-year lifecycles. Therefore, while they are growing–and then again once they are discarded–they may contribute to pollution of local watersheds. Beyond the run-off issue, the sheer numbers of trees that get discarded after every holiday can be a big waste issue for municipalities that aren’t prepared to mulch them for compost.
And back to Jordan’s post, in our culture, rarely are economic concerns and environmental concerns applied as “complementary aspects of the same basic issue”.
I will backup Jordan on buying a Christmas Tree with a root-ball, however, so that you can replant it in your backyard.
And then climb_ca points out (in a hilarious post that you MUST read ) another perspective: “But wait, what if all these tree farms actually contribute to global warming by displacing hardwoods, which absorb more CO2. Doh!”
Of course, Gardening Jim posts four reasons he won’t use an artificial tree:
1. Fake trees are made from nonrenewable petroleum.
2. When a fake tree catches fire, it puts dangerous toxic fumes into the air.
3. Fake trees cannot be recycled.
4. Fake trees are manufactured mainly outside of the United States 85% in China.
Larry’s article (mentioned above) is FANTASTIC in talking both sides of the debate. Along with pointing out potential health risks of fake trees (forgetting to mention that mold often grows on real trees and thus causes respiratory problems), she says
“some might make a case for fake trees, because they are re-used every year and thus don’t generate the waste of their real counterparts. But fake trees are made with polyvinyl chloride (or PVC, otherwise known as vinyl), one of the most environmentally offensive forms of non-renewable, petroleum-derived plastic”
which is a great point.
Further, points are made about the fuels used in shipping Christmas Trees from China and the materials used… but I need concrete stats on this. Not because I doubt that these are valid points, but because I want to see what years they are from… and how when the shift of buying from overseas suppliers began, when PVC plastics were used, etc.
I guess ultimately, it’s easy for me to be OK with having an artificial tree.
Mine is artificial, from 1972. Only God knows the lead amount in it. But it was made in the USA. It has been loved for 35 years this Christmas. And my family has avoided dealing with 35 years of deciding what to do ~ pesticides or petroleum.
And my old tree, like a cool, old Grandma, kicks butt.