Real verses plastic - Which is the more sustainable option?
Every December, the age-old (or at least since PVC was invented) debate arises over whether it is more environmentally-friendly to purchase a reusable artificial tree or to cut living tree to decorate for the Christmas holidays. Obviously, the best option would be no tree at all but I suspect very few of us would forego our favourite Christmas icon in the name of environmental stewardship. So, what is a conscientious 'Christmas tree-hugger' to do? Here are a few reasons why the real Christmas tree comes out ahead of its plastic counterpart...
Evergreens produce oxygen year round - one acre of Christmas trees produces the daily oxygen requirement for 18 people! They also act as a carbon sink (forests absorb carbon dioxide added by fossil fuels). Trees also stabilize the soil, protect water supplies and provide a home for many wild animals.
2. Evergreens are a renewable resource.
Every spring, new saplings are planted to replace those cut down the previous winter. Cutting a tree at a farm is not the same as cutting a tree in the woods. Like other crops, Christmas trees are planted with the intention that they will one day be harvested. In many cases, Christmas tree farms are located in areas that are not suitable for other crops due to poor soil conditions. At the end of their cycle, rather than going to landfill, Christmas trees are often turned into mulch continuing their benefits to the Earth.
3. It's starting to smell a lot like Christmas...
It has been shown that our sense of smell is strongly tied to memory. The scent of a fresh pine tree in your living room is bound to invoke that nostalgic feeling of the holidays in even the grinchiest of people!
4. You are supporting a local farmer.
When you purchase your tree from a cut-your-own farm, you are supporting the livelihood of a farmer in your community. While real trees are available for sale at big box stores, they have often travelled hundreds of miles to get to you. When you pick your tree at a farm, you know where it came from!
There you have it! Convinced to switch to real yet? Some of you may be thinking that these arguments are all well and good but you still have to get in your car, trudge through snow, saw through a thick tree trunk and haul an awkward bundle of needles home with you, all while your phalanges are developing frostbite. To this, I like to quote a very wise man named Clark from a classic movie called Christmas Vacation - "That's all part of the experience, honey".
Merry Christmas! See you at the farm!