To Tree, or not to Tree?

Are Christmas Trees an Eco-No No?

Screen Shot 2015-12-06 at 10.41.19 PMNot necessarily. In the 20 century 98% of Christmas Trees came from unregulated forests. Today, that number has flipped and the vast majority come from tree farms. A 2012 Villanova University study concludes that beyond the oxygen tree farms provide, because the stumps are left in the ground, a significant amount of the carbon they sequester also remains buried. This is a good thing. Also, the land that tree farms inhabit is usually not suitable for other crops. So tree farms provide the additional service of preventing soil erosion. An estimated 300 million trees – 350,000 acres – are planted by Christmas-tree farms.

If you are going the artificial route, that plastic tree was most likely manufactured in China and will ultimately end up in a landfill. Artificial trees can’t be considered earth friendly unless they are utilized for at least 10 years. And even then, a PVC tree remains unrecyclable.

Screen Shot 2015-12-06 at 9.58.44 PMTree farms are perennial. For every harvested tree, an average of 2 to 3 seedlings are planted. The best option for a cut tree is to find the nearest “cut your own” farm and transfer it yourself. If this is not possible, inquire about the origin of a pre-cut tree and choose the closest point of origin to where you live. Obviously, the farther a tree has to travel to market, the bigger the carbon footprint.

Christmas trees cease to be Eco-friendly if they are thrown out with regular trash and end up in a landfill or are incinerated.

Plan to have a mulching/recycling solution for your tree before you commit to buying Screen Shot 2015-12-06 at 10.43.54 PMor cutting one. Click here for suggestions. Also, LED twinkle light options are readily available, so consider reducing energy use by investing in these lights. And don’t toss those non-working lights. Some big box stores have a string light recycling or trade-in option this time of the year. If you missed the trade-in window, hold on to them until next year.

live treeIf you have a yard that can handle a live, potted or balled tree, you might consider one as an option to a pre-cut tree. There are some important stipulations that should be followed however. Keep the root ball continually moist and keep the tree away from direct heat sources – preferably in a window. Replant the tree outside as soon as possible. Nurseries advise replanting within 30 days of purchase and not to exceed 2 weeks indoors. If the ground is frozen, keep the root ball protected with straw, leaves and/or mulch until you can plant it successfully. Remember to consider the tree species that will best suit your area and climate.

Best wishes for the happiest of Holidays!


About the Author

Here at Jenny Green Jeans, by sharing success stories and easy-to- implement tips, I hope to inspire and empower you to continue to make sustainable choices in your life and watch how far the impact goes. Contact me with any questions or suggestions you may have.

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