|Real, I'm pretty sure; er, the tree I mean|
As Christmas approaches, the Scrooge-like debate is back: Am I harming the environment by buying a real, freshly cut Christmas tree?
Or is it “greener” to go for an artificial tree and reuse it year after year?
With more than 1 million Christmas trees cut each year in Pennsylvania alone, it’s a legitimate question.
|Fake, definitely fake,|
The answer is a little complicated.
There are pros and cons with each choice.
“Before being cut, real Christmas trees absorb air pollutants and emit fresh oxygen,” the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Pennsylvania Executive Director Harry Campbell said about the advantages of buying a live tree. “They stabilize soil and reduce erosion...”
Live tree advocates are quick to point out that seedlings take a cut tree’s place. Christmas trees are grown on tree farms and are not part of forests.
Though it may not be an environmental consideration, buying trees cut locally supports local economies.
Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture estimates that the state has 1,360 Christmas tree farms, second only to Oregon, on 31,000 acres — fourth-highest in the United States. Lancaster County has close to a dozen such farms. Supporters point out Christmas trees are a renewable resource.
Christmas trees may only be used for several weeks to decorate the home, then discarded. But many local communities now gather them to be composted with the compost given free to residents to boost the growth of trees and plants.
A knock against live Christmas trees is that some are grown with the use of pesticides.
Store-bought artificial trees do eliminate the need for cutting a live tree. And there’s no production of carbon dioxides from driving to and from a tree farm each year to cut a tree. But at what price?
The manufacture of artificial trees involves the use of a host of petroleum-based chemicals, some of which are toxic.
Since most artificial trees are made in Asian countries, you need to factor in the energy used to transport the goods to the United States, though a 2012 study found long-distance transport very efficient.
|Only the real thing for Emily|
Eventually, the artificial trees are sent to landfills. Or, in the case of Lancaster County, to a trash-to-energy incinerator.
“If a household uses an artificial tree for at least 4 years, its carbon footprint (with regard to Christmas trees) will be smaller than that of a household that purchases a real tree every year,” according to the American Christmas Tree Association that represents those involved in the artificial Christmas tree industry.
|Ah, the old tinsel tree!|
However, a Canadian study concluded that you have to use an artificial tree for at least 20 years to make it the greener choice. But, other studies say that most people keep their tree only five to seven years before replacing it with another.This year, Georgia decided to dress our 30 year old Cycad up with some LED lights, and a few snowflakes and call it our Christmas tree. Well, it is Christmas, and it's a tree (or could be):
Who knew that Christmas shopping could be so complicated?
Wombt-socho has "Rule 5 Sunday: Maid of Meat" up and running at The Other McCain.