Real or fake?

Yes, I’m wondering if you have real or fake ... Christmas trees. This is definitely a topic that causes a lot of confusion, and I get it. Some people think: I’m going to buy an artificial tree so I don’t have to keep cutting down a real one every year. However, this is not the answer, environmentally speaking. The most environmentally friendly way to have a Christmas tree is to buy a real one year after year.

There are many reasons why having a real tree is better for the environment. Most artificial trees are made from toxic, non-recyclable materials, so someday that tree will end up in a landfill. A study found that an artificial tree has three times more impact on climate change than a natural tree.

You’re probably thinking, “But cutting down so many trees every year can’t be good either!” Real Christmas trees are grown for that purpose: to grow to be a certain height, cut down, and sold as Christmas trees. There is very little harm to the environment to do that. There are 350 million trees growing on Christmas tree farms in the United States, with about 30 million being harvested annually.

Furthermore, after Christmas you drag your real tree out to the curb and the city will pick it up for you. The city takes the trees and recycles them into mulch or chips. In Bay Village and Westlake, all yard compost including Christmas trees is taken to the compost facility on Ranney Parkway in Westlake. In fact, you may purchase leaf humus and shredded wood through the Bay Village and Westlake service departments; see details at under "Departments" – “Service” – “Compost”; or under "Government" – "Service" – "Collection & Drop-Off."

Once the tree is composted, it goes back into the earth without creating much pollution. I say “much” because if the tree is shipped from somewhere far away, there is a carbon dioxide emission that has to be assigned to the tree as an environmental impact, however the impact is far less than an artificial tree. The artificial tree will eventually take up space in a landfill and release harmful toxins for hundreds, maybe thousands, of years.

What is the MOST environmentally friendly way to have a Christmas tree? Buy a live tree, meaning it still has its root ball intact. You can plant it in your yard after use. This is not realistic for most people as the tree can only be used for a very short time indoors because they need to be planted soon after purchase. The second most environmentally friendly Christmas tree is one you get that was raised and harvested locally, therefore having a small carbon dioxide emissions impact as its travel time is less. If you are not interested in a live tree that can be replanted and you are unable to find a locally raised tree, please just buy any real tree you want and know that you are making an environmentally sound choice.  

Happy tree hunting!

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Volume 9, Issue 23, Posted 10:34 AM, 12.05.2017