How to green your Christmas tree. A look at the different types of Christmas trees and the best environmentally-friendly options.
How to Green your Christmas tree
The evergreen is an enduring symbol of life and light, so let's carry on this tradition
by Andrea Koehle Jones
What is Christmas without the full glory of an evergreen decorated with family treasures to light up the coldest and bleakest season of the year?
I think if we love our Christmas trees so much, there must be a way to guarantee the tradition continues by making sure there will be trees for future generations. Each holiday season there is a lot of debate about which type of Christmas tree is the most environmentally-friendly. Here are some things to consider when making a thoughtful Christmas tree purchase.
The living tree option involves bringing the tree, roots and soil into your livingroom. The idea is that you will plant the tree after Christmas. You have to know what you're doing because when you purchase a potted Christmas tree in the winter, it is in a dormant state where it remains inactive until the spring. If you disrupt the tree's dormancy, it can lose its needles, turn brown in color and eventually die so take good care of your potted tree. If you take good care of this tree, it can be a fun way to get the kids outside for a fun family activity to plant the tree in the Spring. If you have a big garden you can have an orchard of Christmases past, if you live in apartment you can give your tree away to friends or family.
These days most people have artificial trees. While they last longer than cut trees, they also last longer in landfills because they usually contain pvc (pollution-releasing polyvinyl chloride ) an oil-derived chemical that's not recyclable. Plus most are made in China aso they are shipped long distances before they reach your livingroom. Last year there were reports of some artificial trees containing lead.
According to Christmas tree growers, more than 40 million trees are cut in North America each year. Most Christmas trees are now raised on farms. The trees are grown much like any crop on a farm for example soybeans. If you are going to buy a cut tree try to buy it from your local tree farm. Sometime cut trees from stores have been shipped long distances. Pesticide-free organic trees are becoming more popular.
We really love our Christmas trees so it only makes sense to be thoughtful about our tree choices. I think the only real way to be sustainable is to have a tree planted for every tree you buy or cut. Organizations like Love Trees offer $5 tree certificates to Green your Tree.
The tree gift that keeps giving
Purchase any tree you want but visit love-trees.com to purchase a $5 self-serve tree planting certificate. By greening your tree through Love Trees you can:
1.) replace your tree so future generations will have trees for Christmas and afterall these days the world needs more trees.
2.) give a child somewhere in the world a local and indigenous tree of their own plus a chance to learn about the importance of trees
3.) offer you kids a chance to learn about sustainability to make sure there are trees for other children in the years to come
4.) personalize your certificate and give it to anyone who has helped you or someone you love grow. For example as a thank you gift to your child's teacher or your colleague.
5.) print the optional complimentary printable tree ornament to hang from your tree to tell your family that you have Greened your tree.
6.) post the optional Green your Tree badge on your social media sites, emails and Christmas cards.
Wouldn't it be amazing if an idea like this really took off. It would mean that more and more children around the world would get a tree of their own to plant and watch grow - a true Christmas story of love. Plus children in homes of trees Greened by Love Trees could look at their Christmas tree and feel good that another tree has been planted in honour of their tree.
Andrea Koehle Jones is the founder and executive director of The ChariTREE Foundation and Love Trees and the author of the children's book The Wish Trees.
Journalist, author of The Wish Trees and founder of two children's environmental education and tree planting organizations: Love Trees (love-trees.com) and The ChariTREE Foundation (charitree-foundation.org).