Published on December 10th, 2011 | by Chris Keenan
Plastic Vs Pine Christmas Trees
‘Tis the season to be jolly and nothing makes us jollier than taking care of the earth, right? This holiday season when you decorate your home, stop and consider how your home decorations are effecting the environment.
A good place to start is the centerpiece of most homes during the holidays: the Christmas tree (or Yule tree, or holiday tree, or whatever you choose to call it.) Also known as the good old fashioned “evergreen tree,” one has to stop and wonder: is it really green?
Which type of tree is less harmful to the environment- a real, wooden pine tree, or an artificial, plastic one?
Real Pine Trees
Nothing says Christmas like the fresh scent of pine needles on a cold winter’s day. Many people make it a yearly tradition to bundle up with their family and trek out into the snow for the cutting of their Christmas tree.
While this is a great memory maker, it is not the nicest thing one can do for our planet. Just think about the life force you are destroying when you go to chop that tree down. It is estimated that between 30 and 35 million evergreen trees are butchered each year.
Of course, most Christmas trees are planted and grown on farms specifically designed for the Christmas harvest- not too different than the business of growing pumpkins for Halloween. For every tree that is cut down each year, two or three saplings are planted in its place.
The Christmas tree industry also produces jobs, enabling the local economy to remain self-sufficient.
Of course, if you really hate the idea of butchering a living evergreen, you can always opt for the plastic alternative. Artificial trees are a popular replacement for the real deal, finding homes in 48% of households in the United States as of 2002.
Artificial trees are produced from metal and PVC (polyvinyl chloride) a non-biodegradable, petroleum based plastic. As if that’s not bad enough, many older models contain lead.
Despite being made of plastic, artificial trees are non-recyclable and non-biodegradable, meaning that when you chuck your old plastic tree to the curb, it’s going to sit in a landfill for centuries after the garbage man dumps it there. Real trees, at least, decompose naturally, and can be used for multiple things (such as firewood.)
So the next time you think you’re doing the environment a favor by storing your artificial, non-biodegradable Christmas tree in the rafters in your garage, stop and reconsider the effects it will eventually have on the environment.
If you already have an artificial tree, by all means, don’t throw it out- hang onto it for as many years as you can. After all, it’s a lot more eco-friendly sitting in your living room decked with lights than it is sitting in a landfill.
Check here for some eco-friendly Christmas tree alternatives.
[CC image by ChristopherW via flickr]