As a kid I was always fond of Christmas trees and the ornaments used to decorate them. We used to take Christmas trees to school for yearly celebrations and all students used to line them up on the classroom window shelves. This year, Christmas just got over and as I saw these well-lit 7 foot tall conifers peeping out of the windows of homes around my area, it got me thinking about the origins of these beautiful trees. And what I came across was both surprising as well as a bit upsetting. There is a whole farming industry in itself for Christmas trees in North America, Canada and Europe. It is up and coming in continents like Australia.
However, every year a massive number of these trees are cut for the celebrations. 15 millions. Yes this is the whooping number of Christmas trees cut in 2017 to adorn homes during the peak festive season in the United States of America. And by the way, the number has been increasing each year all around the world.
For this reason there has been a shift from real to fake Christmas trees as well. Before discussing the environmental impacts of the fake ones, let us first understand how the fresh felled trees impact the environment:
- Disposing off the natural tree after the festivities creates increased amount of methane and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This is because when it ends up in a landfill, the tree decomposes and produces methane gas.
- The transportation of trees from the farms to homes increases the carbon dioxide as well in the form of fuels. So , even if it’s the real tree that you ask for, you must look for local farms where you can get them from.
- If not disposed off properly, the leftover wood is burnt again contributing to the carbon footprint. Also, the needles release nitrogen which is again harmful for the air.
To overcome this, artificial trees makes more sense since it can be reused year after year unlike the real ones which serve the purpose for merely few weeks. What’s more, there is no need of taking care of the tree for weeks to keep it fresh. But, this option does come with its downsides:
- Plastics and aluminium used in making the fake tree are non-renewable materials so even after years of use, it is better to recycle them.
- While the real ones give out fresh oxygen, factory produced plastic ones don’t serve the purpose of purifying the air in houses. Rather they pollute the air around because of the chemicals used in manufacturing these trees.
- The needles of such trees are often harmful to kids and pets around since they are made of synthetic plastic and cause harm.
Although real farm fresh Christmas trees bring piney aroma and keeps the festive spirit alive for weeks, still, is a fake tree a sustainable alternative considering the deforestation caused? No, it adds up even more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. For just a matter of couple of weeks we end up cutting a tree grown for 10 years together.
So if not both of these options, how about a potted tree which we can grow in our backyards or even small pots if space doesn’t permit. It will come along year after year with us and also save environment from unnecessary harm.
Image from Pexels : Kristina