Thanksgiving has come and gone, and we’re seeing the sure signs that Christmas is coming — ads for “great gifts” on TV, boxes of ornaments in the aisles at the grocery store, candy canes at the checkout and throngs of shoppers at the mall every day. I love the holidays as much as the next guy, but this year, I’m determined to do something different: I’m going to make my family’s Christmas as green as possible. The avid consumerism that the holidays bring can make that a daunting task, but with a few key tips, you can do the same for your family.
So what is a Green Christmas, you ask, and how will that affect my decorating? I’ve got 5 days worth of content to teach you in the Dreaming of a Green Christmas series. Today’s topic: Which is more green? A real tree or a fake one?
The Great Tree Debate
Once upon a time, the tree hugger in me thought it would be better to use an artificial Christmas tree. Why cut down a tree just to hang a few lights on it and toss it out. Turns out, I was wrong. Let’s look at the facts:
|REAL TREE||ARTIFICIAL TREE|
|Can be sourced from a local tree farm||Likely was manufactured overseas, then shipped to a U.S. retailer. In fact, 85 percent of artificial trees come from China.|
|Biodegradable||Made of plastic and other materials that will stay in the landfill for years after you throw it out|
|Almost completely chemical-free||Contain chemicals like PVC and lead|
|Carbon neutral because trees absorb CO2||Plastic is a by-product of petroleum|
|Can be replanted, recycled or composted||Can be reused, but not recycled once you decide to get rid of it|
|Renewable resource, particularly when sourced from a tree farm that replants new
trees every year
|Petroleum, used to make plastic, is a non-renewable resource|
Go with a real tree, preferably sourced from a tree farm in your local area.
AFTER THE SEASON: There are lots of ways to recycle or otherwise reuse your real tree once the season is over:
- Replant it in your yard
- Have it chipped into mulch. Visit Earth911.org and put in your zip code to find a mulching operation in your area.
- Chop it up and compost it
- Leave your tree recycling ideas in the comments. I’ll add the best ones to this list.
SOURCE: “Green Christmas: How to Have a Joyous, Eco-Friendly Holiday Season” by Jennifer Basye Sander and Peter Sander with Anne Basye (aff)
Of course, you don’t have to go with a traditional tree at all. There are loads of other options.
1. The Cardboard Christmas Tree
Give your kids an art project with this great tree alternative. It is 3 feet tall by 3 feet wide, and just waiting for you to add your personal touch with paint (low- or zero-VOC, of course), crayons, ornaments, garland or whatever else you can think of. Cardboard cutout ornaments are included, but you can use whatever ornaments you’d like.
WHY IT’S GREEN: Made in the U.S. of recycled cardboard and completely recyclable. The Cardboard Christmas Tree also donates a portion of every sale to the Arbor Day Foundation’s reforestation program, Trees for America. It ships flat-packed to reduce shipping costs and carbon emissions.
2. Use a potted tree.
Decorate it, then plant it in your yard when the season is over.
3. Decorate an indoor plant you already have.
Who says your “Christmas tree” has to be a pine? Put some recycled ornaments or stringed popcorn on that plant and leave room for your presents around it.
4. Go without a tree.
Instead, use a fresh wreath or garland like these options from A.R.E. Naturals. These wreaths are handmade from bay leaves and herbs, so they’ll make your home smell wonderful, and they can be composted.
WHY IT’S GREEN: Made of natural leaves, compostable, and don’t harm trees when harvested.
5. Pick other types of greenery from outside your home.
You’d be amazed at how beautiful a few branches can be when tied together with a fancy ribbon. You can also make a centerpiece from twigs by putting them in inside a large vase.
Like what you’ve read today? Throughout this week, Green Your Decor is focusing on key aspects of the Christmas season, including ornaments and decor, gifting and gift wrap, and entertaining guests. Other posts:
- Light up your holidays in energy-efficient, eco-friendly style
- Deck your halls with sustainable decor
- Don’t compromise your green lifestyle when entertaining for the season
- Since you’re giving green gifts, be sure to wrap them in eco-friendly ways
- Dreaming of a Green Christmas Prize Package Giveaway!
As the series continues, Green Your Decor will feature products and books that can help you have a greener holiday season. On Friday, the series will culminate with a huge giveaway in which two lucky readers will walk away with prize packages that include many of these products. So if you’re not yet a subscriber, sign up for the GYD email updates or get your content via your favorite RSS reader — it doesn’t matter which. Just make sure you don’t miss out on what’s to come.