I bet that if I wrote what the actual subject title of this post is, you wouldn’t have given it a glance. This is because you go to sleep with Christmas music in your head. You wake up and see nothing but disgruntled shoppers looking for last minute items and you’re tired of cleaning the litter box and finding tinsel in your cat’s leavings.
Well, I’m sorry, but as a columnist whose mind operates on trying to save the Earth one word at a time, I have to give you my Green holiday spiel. It’ll be quick and painless, I assure you. At its best, it will be both informative and entertaining. It’s about trees.
Christmas trees: real or fake?
This is a dilemma I have grappled with for a long time. After doing a bit of research recently, I have finally made up my mind when it comes to deciding between a real or fake Christmas tree.
I have likened the annual Christmas tree harvest with slaughterhouses. We take a living thing, “nurture” it until it is ready for us to use (even going so far as to objectify them, like how “livestock” actually means cows. Live-Stock… ugh), then, without blinking, end its life so that we can consume it.
The flip-side of wanting that Christmas-y goodness and not wanting to partake in taking the life of a tree for the sake of tradition is to get an artificial tree. Artificial trees are made primarily in China.
They are also made from a variety of plastics and other synthetic, non-recyclable, toxic materials (flame retardants… like the ones they put in pillow materials). When the life of an artificial tree wears out, the only place left for it to go is a landfill, where its toxins can leach into our soil and groundwater for several hundred years.
Since my family insists on having a tree in our home at this time of year, I have decided that a real Christmas tree is the way to go. Why? Well, I’ll tell you why:
- It’s always best to check ahead of time, but if you’re living in a nippy place like Canada, the chances of your tree is being harvested locally. This gives the local economy a boost and there is a statistic somewhere that said that thousands of Quebecers are employed for the tree harvest.
- Trees are carbon lovers. Even though the poor things are killed each year, the fact that there are large tracts of land reserved for the purpose of growing trees sequesters large amounts of carbon, which does, essentially, help to improve air quality.
- There are tree collections at certain times after the holidays. The trees in my hometown are collected and placed around outdoor skating rinks or transformed into wood-chips and other woody materials. The skating rink lining is a “cool” idea that gives city outdoor enthusiasts the illusion that they are a bit closer to nature and are nicer to look at then concrete and passing cars.
- There is a major decrease in your carbon footprint when you buy things locally. If you get the China plastic tree, you are supporting cheap, potentially unfair working conditions and causing more harm to the Earth by using bazillions of gallons of fuel to get it to your home.
So that’s why. It’s a bit of a twisted thing that we cut down trees just because of a tradition, but on the same coin, have you eaten food or worn clothes today? Trees, like cotton and wheat, are plants, albeit more charismatic. (Hopefully, your clothes are made by workers with fair wages from organic cotton fields.)
If tradition isn’t your thing, but you still want a place to tuck your gifts:
- Decorate a house-plant with your decorations
- Get a Sapin de Noel that you can plant outside once the ground has thawed in the Spring
- Make one out of materials that you can stick on your wall like a poster and draw your ornaments in
- Get a ceramic tree that you can just plug in (unless it’s made form a far-away land, like their larger, plastic-ier cousins)
If you have other tree alternatives, please let us all know in the comment space!
Happy holidays, and please don’t forget about the Earth when your generosity is peaked.