Your Christmas tree is the focal point for making your holiday special. Decorating the tree is a cherished family tradition in many homes, even if the kids do argue over who gets to put the star on top of the tree this year. Unfortunately, it can also be a big part of your Christmas carbon footprint! Here are a few tips for making sure you choose the most environmentally friendly Christmas tree available.
Artificial Christmas trees aren’t the most environmentally friendly Christmas choice, due to the petroleum energy that goes into making them and the plastic materials they use. However, if you choose wisely, an artificial tree can be something you’ll use for years and years to come – reducing the impact it will have.
If you choose to go the artificial route then make sure you buy a quality tree that will last. You’ll also need to have a place to store it in between Christmases. If you really want to reduce the impact your tree has, try finding a second-hand reusable artificial tree for sale. Goodwill, the Salvation Army and many thrift stores might have one this time of year from people who are upgrading.
Cut trees are still a favorite choice for many people. Picking your own tree is always fun and, once you have it at home, it’ll give off a wonderful smell! Not to mention the fact that you can choose the exact kind of tree you want. Norway Spruce is a favorite, but my personal favorite is Balsam. Here in Maine, we have some on our property and I love the smell.
Unfortunately, cut trees aren’t always a great choice for the environment. Cut trees cannot be used year after year, and they will eventually start to die and drop needles no matter how careful you are to keep the water level up in their stand. However, if you buy your live tree from an organic Christmas tree farm, where they replant a tree for every one they cut down, you’re getting the best of both worlds. And if you recycle your tree, it’s even better. Many towns and cities offer this option. We live in a rural area, so our tree becomes part of a brush pile we’ve established for animal and bird shelter. If you still want to buy a cut Christmas tree then you can at least reduce the negative impact it has by recycling it once the holidays are finished. For example, you could use the tree for projects in your home that require wood, or you can turn the tree into mulch using a local Christmas tree recycling service.
A far more environmentally friendly Christmas tree choice would be to choose live trees that can be planted outside once the holidays are over. This is far less wasteful than buying a cut tree, as it keeps on growing even after the holidays. There are some drawbacks, though, such as the fact that you’ll need to hide the roots in a suitable container while you’ve got it inside, and it’ll cost more. You have to live in a climate where you can still plant a tree in December, and you’ll have to be careful that your home isn’t too warm for the tree to live healthily!
Choosing an environmentally friendly Christmas tree really is a big decision, and will take some advanced thought. Weigh up the pros and cons and do the best you can in your situation to help minimize the environmental impact of the tree you choose. Then, relax and enjoy the holiday. What you do the other 364 days of the year to help the environment has a bigger effect on our world than what kind of Christmas tree you choose. Reduce, reuse, recycle and enjoy Christmas and every day of the year.
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