The Eco-Friendly Guide to Buying a Tree this Winter

With the holidays approaching, many of us love participating in annual traditions. It is important, however, to consider how our traditions can be a bit more green. If you are planning on getting a tree for the holidays, you might be wondering which option is the most eco-friendly. Here are a few of the options laid out with the pros and cons:
Artificial Tree

Image via GoodHousekeeping.
Image via GoodHousekeeping

Many (roughly 70% of Americans) now use an artificial tree instead of a real one. While it may seem that using an artificial tree rather than cutting down a real tree is the more eco-friendly choice, artificial trees use more energy to make, are typically made out of carcinogenic plastics, and when thrown away spend more than 100 years in landfills. However, for allergic or practicality reasons, some may choose to use an artificial tree. In that case, it is best to buy a good quality tree that lasts a long time, as it takes about 10 years of use for an artificial tree to make up for its environmental costs. Also, it is best to buy a tree that is made in the U.S, as many trees that are made in other countries like China are not made with the same safety and environmental regulations, and therefore contain more harmful chemicals and pollutants. Buying a tree in the same country also reduces transportation costs and emissions.

Living Bulb Tree

Image via GoodHousekeeping
Image via GoodHousekeeping

This option involves buying a small tree that can be later planted outside. While many environmentalists consider this option as the most green, this may not be appealing to those who want a traditional, full sized, christmas tree. Also, success of transplantation is generally low.

Local, Real Tree

Image via ClarksvilleOnline
Image via ClarksvilleOnline

Real trees, when bought locally from sustainable tree farms, are a great option. Tree farms can be thought of as any other form of agriculture, with their controlled growing and harvesting just like vegetables or grains. A good thing about tree farms is that they can be built on lesser quality soil conditions that would not be suitable for other types of agriculture.

When disposed of, the trees will not take as long to decompose, and they could even be picked up by companies to be recycled into wood chips, therefore leaving virtually no waste.

Buying local also supports small local business, helping provide more jobs, and also reduces transportation costs and emissions. This website gives a list of local tree farms based on your location: http://www.localharvest.org

Happy holidays!

Sources:

http://www.countryliving.com/homes/home-maintenance/eco-friendly-christmas-trees

http://envirodad.com/which-is-more-eco-friendly-real-trees-vs-artificial-trees/

http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/holidays/christmas-ideas/christmas-trees-picking-greenest-options#slide-1

http://knowledgenuts.com/2013/12/22/real-christmas-trees-are-more-eco-friendly-than-fake-ones/

http://www.thetreetopper.com

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