I did some research about environmentally sound practices for the holiday season and read in an article published by the Ecology Center that “Americans throw away an additional 5 million tons of trash – 25% more than usual – between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve. … That extra helping of consumer goods, packaging, food waste, and Christmas trees takes a real toll on the environment. More paper and plastic packaging means more trees are cut down and more petrochemicals are produced; more consumer goods means more fossil fuel energy is used for manufacture and for transport. But the holidays don’t have to be a time of waste!” Read what the Ecology Center recommends for an eco-friendly holiday season.

Christmas Trees

I was raised in a family that celebrates Hanukkah and I have never had a Christmas tree. I have written an article about lighting Hanukkah candles, and my recommendations along those lines. I do have very found memories of  How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss, which I experienced as inspirational and recommend for children of all faiths.

The Ecology Center shares that “It takes 7 to 10 years to grow a Christmas tree, whose useful product life is about one month. Christmas trees are usually grown on tree farms that use large amounts of pesticides and petrochemical fertilizers. These toxic chemicals pollute the land and waterways and can poison wildlife. At the end of the Christmas season, the cut tree is disposed of either in the landfill or through a yard waste program.

A better choice is to use a live potted tree that can be used over the years or can be replanted. If you do pick a cut tree, be sure to set it out on the curb for your city plant debris collection day. Lots of people also get creative by making wreaths or dressing up rosemary and other plants in place of a tree.”

For cut tress, here is a list of organic or low spray Christmas trees.

The Portland Nursery offers this online brochure about live holiday trees, and I found an article on how to choose a living Christmas tree. I love the idea of a live tree one would buy or rent that comes in a pot that can be reused or eventually planted as opposed to a petroleum based plastic tree!

What about an artificial tree?

Eric Novack explains in his article Which Christmas Tree is More Eco Friendly – Real or Artificial?

“While it seems logical to presume that artificial trees are the best choice, given that they are used several times instead of just once by digging deeper into the manufacturing process, you soon realize the eco-disadvantages.  Artificial trees are made with polyvinyl chloride (or PVC) which is one of the most environmentally offensive forms of non-renewable, petroleum-derived plastic.

From a health perspective the manufacture of PVC has been known to produce several known carcinogens such as dioxin, ethylene dichloride and vinyl chloride.  These carcinogens often work their way into communities and various forms of cancer have been associated with them as well.  About 85% of all artificial trees sold in North America are made in China, Korea or Taiwan where environmental protections are far less rigid than in North America.

Fake trees can also contain lead and other additives, which is used to make PVC more malleable.  This also creates health concerns since many of these additives have been linked to liver, kidney, neurological and reproductive system damage in lab studies on animals.”

Here are a few links of interest:

If you have a Christmas tree, what option have you chosen?