The celebration of Christmas continues to change through the years, as technology and consumerism brings more technological wonders of decoration to use in our houses. The purchase of artificial, plastic trees has also increased in the 2000’s, as convenience trumps tradition in most modern households.
However, while one may think that refraining in cutting down a piece of nature for display in your living room may be the more sustainable thing to do, an analysis of the path that artificial trees follow from creation to retirement shows that a real, live tree is much more “green”. According to research on EarthEasy.com, artificial trees are often made with PVC plastic, a particularly toxic form of plastic that uses up many resources in its production and eventually will find its way to a landfill once the tree has outlived its use.
Live trees, obviously, are made with all natural ingredients, and can most often be returned to the environment after their time served as a Christmas mascot. One of several options, planting the tree in an overly large pot, allows it to continue growing and to be used for next year’s Christmas. Other sustainable uses include replanting the tree outside or at the original growth site, as well as cutting and chipping the tree into healthy, organic mulch for your own flowerbeds. All of these options conserve overall resources, reduce the amount of toxins released into the environment, and benefit the local ecosystem in a natural cycle of nutrients.
On a side note, another resource intensive aspect of Christmas festivities are the miles of lights hung on trees and homes requiring electricity. One rather creative way of bypassing the necessity of electric lights is to buy a bio-engineered tree! The BBC and Treehugger.com reports that British scientists have pioneered a method of genetically engineering Douglas spruce trees with the bioluminescence of jellyfish. This genetic addition allows the tree to emit a constant glow, completely off the grid. While a tree like this will currently cost you upwards of $320, advances such as these hold promise for even more creative and sustainable to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year in the future. Take time to rethink how you celebrate various holidays, and make an effort to celebrate in the most sustainable way possible.