Ho Ho Ho! Christmas is around the corner. Is your eco-friendly Christmas tree ready? Don’t panic. In this article, I will discuss a variety of options available for you. I will also share with you several practical tips for choosing eco-friendly Christmas trees.
But first things first:
Artificial Vs. Natural Christmas Trees
To understand the sustainability of our Christmas trees, we have to answer three important questions:
- What are the inputs in your Christmas tree?
- How long will those inputs last? In other words, for how long can you use that Christmas tree?
- How will you dispose of your Christmas tree eventually?
Artificial Christmas trees are made of plastics, metal, petroleum products, and other similar inputs. Natural Christmas trees are made of water and nutrients for the soil. However, the big issue is in the manufacture of these inputs. Petroleum products are one of the biggest threats to our environment. The processing plants continually pollute our atmosphere while the tankers have multiple oil spills in the ocean that pose a threat to aquatic life.
Natural Christmas trees also consume a lot of water. Luckily, if they grow tall, without being cut down, they give back to the environment by attracting more rainfall, creating a natural habitat for our wildlife, and giving us clean oxygen to breathe.
The problem with the rising demand in natural Christmas trees is that farmers are now using chemical nutrients to hasten the growth process. With time, these chemicals sip into the rivers, lakes, and oceans, and cause serious pollution issues and dead zones. They also use herbicides and pesticides that pollute the environment.
How long do these trees last?
People use artificial Christmas trees for years whereas you can only use the natural ones for just a year. Does that make artificial Christmas trees eco-friendly? Not necessarily!
The third question ascertains this.
Imagine thousands of homes disposing of their artificial Christmas trees at once. That would severely affect our environment, right? But that doesn’t make the natural ones less concerning. It takes 8 to 10 years to grow a Christmas tree naturally. And if you only get to use it for one year, then that is a waste of the soil’s potential. Even if ideally these trees will decompose and release their nutrients back to the soil eventually, they leave reasonable carbon footprint and traces of methane gas after decomposing.
So what options do you have?
Sustainable Options When Buying an Eco-Friendly Christmas Tree
Natural Christmas trees
In my city, there is a guy that sells potted Christmas trees. Once you order, he delivers and sets them up in your home with a tree skirt. That makes it easier for you to keep watering the tree until January when he picks them up for planting. Larger organizations such as The Living Christmas Tree Company and many others that rent eco-friendly Christmas trees have borrowed the same idea.
In my opinion, this is the best option for an eco-friendly Christmas tree. You enjoy nourishing a living tree as you teach the young ones about responsibilities. You also inspire them to become conscious of our environment for the sake of their future generations.
Besides, once these people plant the trees in January, they don’t have to use artificial chemicals to hasten growth. They let them grow naturally since they don’t need them anymore. Instead, they plant young seedlings and water them naturally awaiting the next December to rent them. So it’s a win-win situation for both you (the buyer) and the environment.
Designated Natural Christmas Trees
Have you ever driven along loop 360 in Austin, Texas? There is an entire farm full of Christmas trees open to the public for decoration. Each year, people decorate these trees as their own. It is more like rent a Christmas tree only that you don’t get to carry the tree home.
If your city offers such reserved Christmas trees, it’s only fair that you decorate the tree with eco-friendly materials.
However, if your last resort is a real Christmas tree (a branch of pine trees), ensure it has the FSC-certification logo. This proves the pine tree was grown ethically and hence promoting sustainability.
Artificial eco-friendly Christmas trees
If you live away from cities that offer “rent-a-Christmas tree-service”, you can still enjoy Christmas with an artificial tree that is sensitive to our environment. So how do you choose an artificial eco-friendly Christmas tree?
- Buy a Christmas tree made from polyethylene plastic (PE). This is a newer technology, and the tree branches look more realistic. Polyethylene degrades naturally, but over a long period. If you dispose them to a recycling center, they have artificial ways to hasten the biodegradation process.
- To ease the burden on your end, just make sure you re-use your PE eco-friendly Christmas tree for several years (20-plus years). In addition to preserving our environment, you will save quite a bit of money.
- Keep off PVC trees. These contain the harmful petroleum inputs we discussed above.
- Avoid the glossy types. These are usually coated with lead – which acts as a PVC stabilizer. The lead-laced dust sheds over time, and some might land on your kid’s gifts or on the pet’s carpet. Lead is a toxic metal, especially when inhaled or swallowed.
If you already own an artificial Christmas tree, don’t throw it away. Just stick to the basics of “eco-friendly”: Reduce, reuse, and recycle.
The DIY Option
YouTube is full of tutorials on how you can design a Christmas tree using locally available materials such as fabric, plywood, cardboard, and crates.
And if you have a bigger garden space, it’s about time you plant your own pine tree. Just make sure you water it economically and grow it organically.
The Bottom Line
Investing in an eco-friendly Christmas tree would go a long way in preserving our environment for the sake of our future generations. You don’t have to give up the entire Christmas tree idea. Just find a solution that works well for you and enjoy a guilt-free festive season.