| It is well known that our environment is suffering from over-abuse. It is also known that trees, whether in the rain forest or your back yard, assist in the detoxification of the air we breathe. Every year, however, we lose trees from every part of the world. At Christmas, the focus turns to Christmas Trees. It is important to increase our knowledge about the environment; but is Christmas really an environmental catastrophe? Well, I would not say so. As with anything, though, I do think that we should give the Christmas Tree tradition some informed thought before making any determinations. I see four possible options for those who typically celebrate the holiday season with a tree in their home: artificial trees, real trees, live trees, or no trees.|
ARTIFICIAL TREES: Artificial trees, if bought once for a lifetime, will still end up in landfills. These discarded trees will then sit and decompose (hopefully) for the next several hundred years. One environmental advantage to owning an artificial tree is that a live tree is salvaged for each year the artificial one is in use.
REAL TREES: Real trees, typically grown on tree farms today, are a RECYCLABLE, renewable resource. While in your home, a real tree will absorb carbon dioxide and other gases to create fresh oxygen. The tree farms themselves are known to stabilize the soil, protect water supplies and provide refuge for wildlife. After the holidays, real trees can be recycled by community organizations set up to do so by the tree owners themselves. Branches may be used for mulch or the whole tree can serve as a bird feeder in the back yard. They can even be used as sand and soil erosion barriers. Refuge and feeding areas for fish are created if sunk into a fishpond. Unfortunately, you cannot use a pine tree for firewood because of the pine tar.
Although the harvesting of real Christmas Trees temporarily depletes the earth of millions of trees each year, this resource is renewable. Prior to 1950, most family Christmas Trees came from the forest, whereas today, almost all are grown on tree farms where they are harvested like any other crop. It is estimated that 2 to 3 seedlings are planted for every tree cut down. Although pine trees grow only about a foot a year, a whole field is usually not depleted during just one season.
LIVE TREES: If you really want to be a conservationist, there is the option of using a live tree for Christmas. A live tree is one taken out of the ground with the roots intact so that it can be replanted. You could say it is REUSABLE. While live trees are a nice idea, the average person may not have luck in the replanting. Even with agricultural knowledge, replanting anything in winter is a risk throughout the Northern regions of our country. Live trees will have a much better survival rate in mild climates. In colder climates, the roots have a tendency to freeze, depriving the trees of the oxygen necessary to live. One other drawback to using a live tree is the labor involved. If you are out shape or at risk of a heart attack, carrying a tree with dirt and roots attached is probably a bad idea.
NO TREE: When discussing recycling, the full lyric is “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.” Although emphasis has been weak in the area of reduction, the holidays are a great time to think about how tree destruction is REDUCIBLE. Many people will say that it isn’t Christmas without a Christmas Tree. Why is bringing a pine tree into our homes worth the back strain, the pine needles, and the fire hazard? Tradition, of course, has linked these trees to our emotions. The evergreen tree has historically symbolized life in the dead of winter. Although a tree has always warmed my living room atmosphere for Christmas, I do propose this year that we at least think together about the effects of our choice. Happy Holidays!!!!!