Each year, more than 350 million Christmas trees are purchased in America. Around 80 % of those trees are artificial and about 20 % are real.
Many people ponder whether buying a real tree is the best choice for the environment or whether an artificial one is a better option. An artificial tree can last many years, while the real one is cut down and tossed after the New Year. So, which option has the most negligible carbon footprint?
The Sustainability of Artificial Christmas TreesRead More »
Examining the Carbon Footprint
If you look at the science behind artificial trees, you might find that it’s greener than you think. If you have a tree that’s 6.5 feet tall, during the production phase, this tree will release 40 kilograms of greenhouse emissions. Now, it’s still putting something into the atmosphere, but if you look at the overall equation, it’s not very much.
Considering that you can use this tree for many years, the numbers look even better. It’s more sustainable to keep this tree and use it time and again than to go out and buy a real one. Plus, artificial tree manufacturing has changed dramatically over the past few years.
Manufacturing companies are incorporating more sustainable materials into their products, which only helps the number of emissions released.
Recycle and Reuse
The carbon footprint left behind by the artificial trees comes from the materials they’re made from, which in most instances is plastic. If you’re in the market for a new tree, it’s best to look for one that’s marked recycled materials, or you can even get a nice used one on social media marketplaces or a second-hand shop.
Additionally, try to recycle ornaments and other décor and avoid buying new ones. There’s something nostalgic about bringing out the decorations from yesteryear and reminiscing, and it’s also more sustainable to reuse rather than get new.
The Sustainability of Real Christmas Trees
Many people can’t imagine Christmas without a real Christmas tree. There’s something nostalgic about the smell of pine and the look that a real tree adds to the home. These trees are a lot of work, as they shed needles and need constant watering.
There’s also the fire hazard that comes with them, though it’s less of a worry with the new cool touch LED lights made today. If you want a real tree, it’s best to find one grown in your local area. There are tree farmers who grow acres of Christmas trees for the season, so they’re not being transported into the region to sell.
A local farmer doesn’t require the transportation costs to get it to you, and you’re helping your local economy. When you buy one from a vendor that has them shipped in, the tree has a lot of mileage on it before it ever gets to your home. Thankfully, the number of people who desire real trees has increased, so the amount of domestically grown trees have risen to meet the demand.
It takes minimal effort to find an excellent tree close to home. Some of the most popular choices for real Christmas trees include cedar, blue and Norway spruce, pine, and Douglas fir. You don’t want to buy your tree too early if you’re going with a real one, as you want it to last till December 25th, and the average Christmas tree will only last about six weeks.
Other Options to Consider
Some tree farmers have found beauty in replanting trees. Rather than buying one you will toss in the trash, you can rent a tree. You head to your local tree farm to find the perfect plant and return it when you’re done.
These farmers will replant the same trees and rent them out again next season. Renting is a more sustainable choice if you care about the environmental impact. Another option is to get a potted tree.
Instead of the hassle of hauling the tree home and returning it, you can decorate the tree for many years to come. Remember that this route is best for someone with a green thumb, as you need to water and maintain it like any other houseplant. While there’s a small initial investment, you will find that it pays you and the environment back royally.
The most economical way to have a real tree is using a rental service, but they’re not available in all areas. However, for this to work, the tree mustn’t be around heat sources. Additionally, it can’t be inside your home, or out of the ground, for longer than two weeks.
Disposal Matters More Than Delivery
You might be surprised to learn how disposing of a real tree is more significant than the carbon footprint of transportation. If you put it in a bag and toss it out for the trashman, it’s worse for the environment as it will fill the landfills. Trees go through a decomposition procedure, releasing methane into the atmosphere.
Another thing to consider is using a recycling service. In the bigger cities, many farmers will use discarded trees to chop into mulch. So, it doesn’t seem so bad, considering that it can be reused. Finally, it would help if you remembered that farmers aren’t forging in the forests and cutting down trees that take away from nature.
They plant every tree on large farms they sell, so they are created for the exact purpose of being sold for the holiday season. If they were going and disturbing the woods and taking away from the dwindling forests, it would be a different matter. However, they’re creating a product to sell like any other vendor.
Making the Right Choice
Whether you choose a real or fake tree doesn’t matter, as you can use the most sustainable route with either option. Artificial trees made with recycled materials are a great choice as they last for many years, so you certainly get your money’s worth.
Real trees look beautiful if you want to keep things traditional. There are also many options with these beauties. Try to buy local, rent a tree, or get one potted. Remember that disposal is essential, as there are ways that you can use the tree to give back rather than letting it rot in a landfill.
The mulch can help with parks and playgrounds in your local area, so it has a dual purpose. The tree doesn’t really matter as much as the people you share it with during the holidays. Family and friends make the season so bright, and the tree is just a focal point for your visual delight.
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