Every year in early January, driveways across America are littered with dead trees. And while trees themselves are biodegradable, putting biodegradable material in a tightly packed and sealed landfill won't give it the oxygen needed for the microbes to break it down, so you’re still adding to the trash problem just throwing a tree out. So what should an eco-conscious person be doing for Christmas then? Here is our take on doing the Christmas tree right and some alternatives.
Buying the Tree
While cutting down a tree every year to decorate your house and confuse your cat for a few weeks may seem wasteful and excessive, if you do it right it’s not that bad for the environment, especially when you consider how bad other Christmas traditions are (looking at you, wrapping paper). Tree farms provides oxygen, reduces greenhouse gasses in the environment, crates habitats for local wildlife, improves soil conditions, and helps protect the local watershed. Tree farms even plant 3-5 trees for each tree cut, so it’s honestly just a great industry all around. The only concern is pesticides, but unfortunately that is of course a pretty major issue, and the vast majority of Christmas trees are grown with pesticides. Luckily, organic Christmas tree farms are becoming more and more popular, so if you live near one of those it can be pretty easy to have a green tree this year.
The harder part is getting rid of the trees. Throwing it out is obviously not good and burning it can be dangerous, as the sap and the needles make for unpredictable quick flashes instead of an easy steady burn. Mulching however is perfectly doable, and makes for an excellent yard decoration and a natural way to garden. Otherwise check your area for community tree recycling programs (some will even give you mulch in exchange!)
Have none of those? There are still a few other options before giving up. Goats absolutely love pine, so check your local farms if they’re willing to accept old Christmas trees. If you have your own herd, know that the trees will even help fight off worm infections somewhat (as well as give them fresh breath). Fisheries and parks are another option, as trees can be converted into fantastic fish habitats. Finally, and most amusingly, there's a chance your local zoo might accept them, as apparently even the biggest and fiercest cats still love Christmas trees.
Still not sold on getting a Christmas tree every year? Here are some quick options for you then.
Live Tree! - Get a tree with the roots still attached and plant it when you’re done.
Borrow a tree - Yes, there are rent-a-tree services these days.
Eco-Friendly Reusables - Plastic trees are terrible for your environment, cause no matter how many years it is used, it’ll spend considerably longer in the landfill. But a nice wooden one gives you the best of both worlds
Potted Evergreens - Certain evergreens can be grown in pots if you know how to give them the proper tlc. So gift yourself a excellent decoration for your yard or house that can serve double duty for Christmas
Rosemary Tree - Live in a small apartment? Wanna go really minimal? Growing herbs indoors is a great way to get fresh, local, eco-friendly seasoning all year long, and during Christmas you can give your rosemary a little holiday-themed pruning and you’ve got an excellent miniature Christmas tree.
Have Fun Crafting - Draping garlands? Decorating with pine tree branches? Painting a tree? If your a little clever and wanna have some fun, there are plenty of ways to get the tree without a tree.
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