From the lights in the yard to the packaging on the presents, Christmas isn’t the best holiday for the environment. However, there are a lot of ways to make your Christmas greener if you’re willing to try. If you want to go the more sustainable route with your tree this year, explore all your options and pick what’s best for you and the environment.
Obviously, going to a nearby forest to cut down a tree might be cheap, but it’s not very environmentally friendly. Even if everyone who did this planted a new tree, it would take years for that tree to grow big enough to truly replace the tree that was cut down. If you want the tree-chopping experience, there might be a tree farm near you that allows you to cut down your own Christmas tree.
Artificial trees might seem like an easy option, but they’re less green than they seem. Faux firs use a lot of energy and materials to make, not to mention the resources used to ship them from China, where they’re normally made.
According to most studies, you’d need to use an artificial tree for 15-20 years for it to be worth it for the environment. Most people throw their fake trees away after fewer than ten years; those get tossed in a landfill where they don’t degrade since they’re made of plastic. So if you’re going to invest in an artificial tree, commit to keeping it a good long while.
Buying a tree from a nursery or tree farm might not seem very sustainable, but, if done correctly, it can be. In order to stay in business, tree farms make sure to keep planting new trees so that they have enough trees of all different sizes to sell in subsequent years. That means there’s always a forest converting carbon dioxide to oxygen.
Once the holiday is over, dispose of your tree responsibly. You can get it chipped or mulched so it can nourish the next generation of Christmas trees, or find another recycling option that works for you.
A live potted tree is good if you live in an apartment or house without much space, and you can keep it outside when the holiday is done. However, you have to make sure to treat the plant well. Trees in the winter are meant to be out in the cold, and bringing one into your warm, toasty home will disrupt its dormancy period. The tree can survive being indoors for a few days, just like it would be able to survive a quick thaw in the middle of winter. Potted trees can be brought inside a day or two before Christmas, but they should go back outside no later than New Year’s Day.
Choose a tree that’s suitable for the climate you live in, and then, come spring, you can plant it in the ground. You can also buy a more tropical tree for Christmas and keep it inside as a houseplant all year round.
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