As we ring in each new year there are always those who verbally commit themselves to improbable resolutions such as losing weight, saving money, or getting better grades. While these are all noble pursuits, I have a suggested resolution that requires little to no work and results in a healthier environment: the purchase of a real Christmas tree for the next holiday season.
As the campaign to save the environment has become increasingly popular, some people have begun to believe that an artificial tree is superior by associating the cutting of a real Christmas tree with deforestation. However, nearly every Christmas tree sold on the markets is grown on a Christmas tree farm and once chopped down, is replaced by a couple seedlings so as to continue the cycle. The other key difference between deforestation and the cutting of Christmas trees is the resulting pollution from what replaces the trees. The land cleared in deforestation is almost always developed for human purposes, including agriculture and basic infrastructure. While these development areas release pollutants such as carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere, baby Christmas trees have been found to take up more CO2 than older ones. One downside of Christmas tree farms is that they require pesticides and fertilizers which release harmful pollutants into the environment. However, there are always organic Christmas tree farms from which consumers can choose to buy their tree.
The propaganda for artificial trees uses misconceptions about real Christmas trees, but in reality, the artificial tree is not quite as clean as it may seem. At the end of the day, artificial Christmas trees are still made of plastic. As explained in “The Ever Encroaching Plastic Bag”, plastic is not biodegradable, so the remnants of an artificial tree will simply sit in a landfill for the remainder of its time. A real Christmas tree on the other hand can be recycled into mulch to be used in a garden or burned as a renewable source of energy. Another main source of pollution that the artificial as well as the real Christmas trees are somewhat guilty of is pollution created by their respective transportation. The majority of artificial trees in the US are manufactured in China and shipped to consumers, whereas real Christmas trees tend to be transported from the nearest farm within the country.
When considering the impact artificial and real Christmas trees have on the environment the obvious answer would be to forgo the purchase of any type of tree, but since we have already established we won’t be ‘working toward’ unrealistic goals this year, the purchase of a real Christmas tree will have to suffice. If you are looking to take your resolution one step further, LED lights use roughly 1/6th the energy of incandescent lights. To top it all off, when your friends ask your New Year’s resolution you can impress them by responding: ‘to reduce my impact on the environment’, while they simply mention the five chocolates they have decided to skip.
– Carly LeMoine
AAAAWESOME! But, I’ve seen reusable Christmas tree farms in the UK that actually re-plant them after every season. That way people can come back and get the exact same tree they had the year before, while reducing their impact on the environment. Yay!!