Environmentally-Friendly Christmas Trees

Going green — By Stephanie on November 29, 2008 at 9:00 am
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Is your Christmas Tree green?

Ah, the holiday season!  Filled with excesses of all kinds – Christmas cookies, shopping and yes… even egg nog!  But what if you are thinking green this year?  No, not just cold hard cash, which seems to be in short supply these days, but also with respect to your home decor?  Is there such a thing as environmentally-friendly Christmas trees?  Yes, Virginia, there is!

One company in Portland, Oregon actually rents whole trees (roots and all) to customers who do not like the idea of purchasing a tree that has been cut down simply for the enjoyment of a few weeks.  The Original Living Christmas Tree Company rented out nearly 450 trees last year to people that wanted environmentally-friendly Christmas trees.  For approximately the same cost as a “traditional” Christmas tree you can get all this:

“The trees are taken out of the ground, roots and all, put into pots, and delivered to families in the Portland area. Soon after New Year’s, Fogel and his crew pick up the trees and deliver them to parks, school districts and other groups who pay around $10 to have the trees planted on their property.”

But what if you don’t live in the Portland, Oregon area?  There are still ways for you to have an environmentally-friendly Christmas tree this year.  Before we get to some of your options, consider this funny take on the “real vs. fake” Christmas tree debate:

So what makes an environmentally-friendly Christmas tree?   The range of options include: (1) purchase an artificial tree; (2) purchase a fresh-cut tree; (3) purchase a live tree; or (4) rent a live tree.  Not all of these trees are “green,” however.  Proponents of artificial trees note that you make a single purchase for all future holidays.  The cost may be a bit more, but you don’t waste money year after year on a new live or fresh-cut tree.  Despite these observations, they are not environmentally-friendly Christmas trees.

Artificial trees are made from petroleum products, often in China, where concerns about manufacturing processes have recently been newsworthy.  The potential for lead poisoning if you own one of these trees is high.  Doesn’t sound too cheery to me!

Fresh-cut trees are all natural, of course, but they require a great deal of area on which to plant Christmas trere farms.  Not only that, but the fuel required to haul the trees from farm to stand increases the carbon footprint of this alternative.  You could go to a U-Cut farm for a slightly more environmentally-friendly Christmas tree.  Just don’t request that you have it flocked!

Short of renting a tree from a company like The Original Living Christmas Tree Company, purchasing a live tree and then replanting it in your yard, or giving it to a neighbor, is probably the “greenest” way to celebrate the holidays.  Sure, the cost is a little bit higher than with a cut tree, but the impact on the environment is much lower overall.  Won’t it feel better to purchase something alive?  Your family can then revisit the tree over the year and watch it grow.  What a responsible, educational lesson for the young people in your life!  Talk about turning consumerism on its head.

Speaking of consumerism, who hasn’t enjoyed the  ”real vs. fake” Christmas tree debate in the Peanuts classic holiday show, “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”  Knuckle-head Charlie Brown ignores Lucy’s advice to get a “shiny, aluminum tree” and opts for a lame real tree that cannot even hold up a single ornament.  The Christmas spirit and a little help from Snoopy’s decorations magically transform the twig into a Christmas tree that all Charlie Brown’s friends can be proud of:

Don’t be a knuckle-head this holiday season.  Consider buying an environmentally-friendly Christmas tree.  It is a wonderful gift to give the planet.

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  1. Mark Rohlfs says:

    There is a new program in Oregon taking shape for the environmental certification of Christmas trees called SERF (Socially & Environmentally Responsible Farms http://www.certifiedchristmastrees.org ). The program is being developed with the cooperation of the Oregon Department of Agriculture and Oregon State University Extension. Find out more about how this program protects the environment and provides certification for consumers to identify Christmas trees grown using sustainable farming practices at http://www.environmentalchristmastrees.com

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