Of those millions of North Americans who plan to celebrate Christmas, a good many kicked off the season this past weekend by decorating a tree. For some, that may have meant trolling the out-of-town farms for the perfect balsam fir to haul home. For others, it required digging through the basement boxes for a more polyvinyl-chloride-inspired way to express their holiday spirit.
Which brings us to a burning question. Which do you think is kinder to the environment – a genuine, traditional, farm-grown tree, or a plastic knock-off?
There are arguments for both, which is why public opinion is divided. According to the Ontario Forestry Association, 46 percent of us believe that fakes are environmentally friendlier, while 42 percent think true trees are better for the planet.
Real trees, says the OFA, release precious oxygen when they’re planted densely on farms. They’re replaced with seedlings once harvested. And after the holidays they return to mother earth as mulch, thanks to our municipal waste programs. Fake trees, however, gobble up fossil fuels in their manufacture and transport, and eventually languish in landfill.
I’m not sure it’s as clear cut (no pun intended) as all that. After all, fossil fuels are also required to truck the farm trees into the cities where they’re sold, or to pick them up at curbside after Christmas, even to chow them down into that very special, slightly tinsel-tainted park mulch. And when artificial trees are made from recycled materials, they’re doing at least some good.
Which makes it all a little confusing for the poor person who just wants to hang sparkly stuff. Personally, I go for the biologically genuine. I hope it’s the greenest choice. But besides that, there’s just something special about that lovely piney scent that fills the air and clogs up my nose the instant I walk into the room.
Nothing like a little nasal congestion to bring a family together, right? It’s the real thing for me.