Which is the “greener” tree – freshly-cut or artificial?

In Other, by , on December 9th, 2013

I’m dreaming of a green Christmas.
Artificial trees are typically composed of PVC or polyethylene needles on metal branches. They may last a number of years and don’t require you to drive to a location to buy a tree that has been cut down. So are they eco-friendly? The plastic polymers are petroleum-based, they are typically made in China so there is a huge transportation issue. Certain nasty chemicals are used in the manufacturing process. Some people then spray them with chemicals to get the fresh tree smell, thus emitting more materials into the atmosphere. So overall… not very “green.”

Farmed fresh-cut trees are usually grown on farms. They are re-planted so it is a sustainable practice. The spent tree can be ground up and turned into mulch. In fact the whole tree can be placed in the woods or in water for small organisms to use as a hiding space. However it must be noted that some Christmas tree farmers do spray products to inhibit the growth of surrounding vegetation. Occasionally pesticides are used as well. Locally grown trees do not have high transportation impact; however, if everyone drove out into the country to get the perfect Griwsold tree, the amount of fuel used would be high. Some farmers are now using more eco-friendly growth practices, through the use of integrated pest management and leaving more green space for watershed protection.

Are there better options? How about a potted pine tree? Dig the hole in your yard now while the ground is not frozen. If possible put the soil from the hole in a bag and keep in a place where it won’t freeze (perhaps your garage?) Try to keep the tree in the house for as few days as possible. Plant outside and use your unfrozen soil to place around the tree’s root ball. You may need to water initially even in the winter. Pack soil firmly around the tree. You also may need to provide support if it is really large. You could pound one rod or bar straight down near the trunk or use several ropes to keep it upright. (Do not tie tightly around the tree.) Then you would have a tree in the yard to enjoy and admire year-round.

This tip brought to you by the Sustainability Committee.