Hey, where’s your mind? You know I’m talking about Christmas trees, right? Of course you did!… sheesh.
But the debate over real Christmas trees vs. the artificial option has been raging for some time. Both sides give a pretty good argument but for as long as I can remember, my mom and now my own family have gone the route of artificial trees.
Aside from the fact that you can now buy them with the lights already attached (for the “no-cursing-over-the-tangled-light-strings”-factor!) they are easy to assemble so you can get to the fun part of decorating! And my eco-friendly favorite factor… they get used year, after year, after year…
My husband would probably tell you a different story and that is the fact that I have compassion for literally everything(!) and would never dream of killing a tree! He has been known to yell “OUCH!” when I bite into a piece of broccoli (to which I scream back “STOP IT!”) because then I feel bad for the broccoli! (Now you think I’ve gone mad, don’t you!) Don’t laugh. A friend of mine won’t put anything in the dishwasher by itself because she thinks it will be lonely. (See, we’re all nuts!)
But seriously, the environmental side of using live trees is the fact that they require herbicides and pesticides for about 8-12 years before they’re a “sellable” size. Add to that the carbon footprint of getting them to a selling site, unless you live near a tree farm or cut your own. At the end of the season, they end up in the trash, unless you seek out a source for recycling them for mulch or compost.
On the opposite side, artificial trees are often manufactured in China (with PVC and, some say, lead) and you have to consider the “cost” of getting them to your local retailer, but they do get used again and again. And often, they get donated to another family or organization before they eventually meet a landfill once they are tattered, old and no longer loved. 🙁 Unfortunately, I haven’t heard of a biodegradable artificial tree just yet.
So what is the answer to the debate? Simply… I don’t know for sure.
Actually, the most environmental choice would be to buy a live, uncut tree with the root ball still intact and then plant it right after the holidays. One consideration though (especially in cold climates) is digging a hole in the frozen ground. For this, I recommend digging the hole ASAP and then you can just plant it as soon as the holidays are over. ( I also recommend talking to a professional about how to move them outdoors and properly plant them, to increase the chance of survival.)
But whatever you choose for your family, do the responsible thing and see that your real tree gets composed or mulched or use your artificial tree for years and years to come.
Now, I have to get back to steaming some broccoli…awww. Poor broccoli.