The “greenest” Christmas tree

Time to weigh in on that yearly debate: artificial or authentic Christmas tree?

In an epic eco battle conducted by Ellipsos between natural versus artificial trees, the real Christmas tree proved victorious (a.k.a. most eco-friendly).

But wait. The story does not stop there. For people living in a cities – a long drive from a Christmas tree farm – the opposite proves true.

In 2009, Ellipsos sustainable development strategists, Sylvain Couillard, Gontran Bage, and Jean-Sébastien Trudel, conducted a study comparing the impact on climate change and resource depletion from artificial trees (both premium and China-made) versus natural trees (both those grown in a nursery and those grown in a field).

Though they found the natural tree to be the lesser of the two evils (with 3 times less of an impact on climate change and resource depletion), they did note that it is not a perfect solution as cutting down natural trees results in important impacts on ecosystem quality. However, tree plantations often occupy land that otherwise would be unusable (for example, land under electrical lines). Therefore, having a tree farm in these specific locations actually improves ecosystem quality.

This year make that holly jolly Christmas tree even greener

This year make that holly jolly Christmas tree even greener

So, to sum it up, if you are going to go with a traditional tree here are our tips to stay green:

Buying a real Christmas tree: 

  1. Buy local.
  2. Buy from a farm that uses minimal to no pesticides/herbicides.
  3. If you live close to land that has been ordered to be kept clear (e.g. because of hydro lines), get a provincial permit and go on a family adventure to cut down your own.

Buying an artificial tree:

  1. Don’t cheap out. Buy premium and ensure it will last over 20 years.
  2. Avoid trees with PVCs. They are bad for you and bad for the environment.
  3. If you have the space, plant your own tree! Start with a potted tree, plant it, and watch it grow.
  4. Don’t have time to go tree shopping and chopping? Rent a tree. Many companies now offer the service of delivering a potted or locally-grown cut tree straight to your home. For example, Evergrow Christmas Trees Co of British Columbia, Canada are renting out Christmas trees, then collecting them and replanting (as opposed to sending them to the wood chipper). Look for innovative ideas like this taking place in your community!
  5. No space in your apartment for a massive tree? Get a small indoor potted pine to add a little Christmas spirit to your place.
  6. Lastly, get uber green and hit up Pinterest for some DIY trees that use recycled products.

The actual impact in terms of climate change of a typical natural Christmas tree is small compared to actions in our day-to-day lives. However, keeping “green” in mind while you go through your holiday rituals – decorating, buying your tree, preparing feasts, and buying gifts – will add up and will keep you in the festive spirit. Making these changes now will hopefully set precedence for changes to come in the New Year.

christmas-carbon-footprint

Looking for more options?

Referred to tips taken from Greenest Christmas Tree – real, artificial, or other at davidsuzuki.org

Happy holidays fellow tree lovers!

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About the Author

A travel-enthused waitress, passionate environmentalist, and lover of all things food - Karly enjoys writing and designing while saving her pennies for the next chance to see another part of the world.

One thought on “The “greenest” Christmas tree

  1. Hello karly, i love your post and will be glad if i have you write about an industrial city project i am working on in Ghana.

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