Written by Amber Zelmer
Now that we have stuffed ourselves silly for Thanksgiving, people are putting up their Christmas decorations & getting into the holiday spirit! Many people might be wondering whether to choose a real or artificial tree for their household this year. You may be surprised to learn that using a real Christmas tree can be a better choice for the environment than an artificial tree!
The benefit of artificial trees, is that they don’t need to be watered and are able to be reused year after year. However, most artificial trees are used for less than 4 years before they are thrown out. There are almost no facilities that recycle artificial trees and they can take up to 500 years to break down in a landfill! Most artificial trees are manufactured overseas in China or Korea & must be shipped for sale here in the U.S. According to Audubon magazine, you would have to keep an artificial tree for at least 20 years before it would be a better alternative than the real deal.
Christmas tree farms in the U.S. are a more sustainable source for your holiday tree. It can take a pine tree around 7 years to grow to a harvestable size. During the time it is growing, the tree is providing a habitat for migratory birds & other native wildlife. These trees are also producing oxygen & sequestering carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
If you are wondering how to dispose of your natural Christmas tree after the holidays there are many ways that you can use the tree to keep benefitting the environment! Many communities offer drop off sites for your old trees & may use them to help prevent erosion by creating barriers along beaches to help preserve sand dunes. The City of Houston offers an annual Christmas tree recycling program and will pick up trees and turn them into mulch or, if you have the space, you can mulch it yourself and use it in your garden or landscaping. Make sure to check online to see which day your neighborhood is collecting trees for the program. When recycling your tree, you must remove all ornaments, decorations, lights, tinsel & tree stands; flocked trees cannot be recycled. If you are not a resident of Houston proper, be sure to check online for local sites that are participating in tree recycling programs or repurposing used trees.
This holiday season we can all be a little more green!