A Potted Christmas: Getting the Real Deal

“Your really want that one?” the tree lot manager asks me. “It’s a bit lopsided and sparse.”
What can I say? I’m a sucker for the Charlie Brown Christmas trees. My heart goes out to the one that gets overlooked again and again, and inevitably I go home with the strangest looking specimen in the lot.
But my concerns for the trees go beyond misfit left-behinds. Every year for the past few years I’ve contemplated the impact my Christmas tree-buying habits are having on the planet, not sure which way to go.
As I suspected, artificial trees aren’t really great for the environment, despite masquerading as green guys. They’re most often made of polyvinyl chloride, a nasty plastic that contributes dioxins (carcinogenic compounds) to the environment. And they’re not recyclable, nor are they biodegradable (in our lifetime).
Yet real, lot-grown trees have downsides, too. Sure, they add to the artificially-planted forests around the country that are helping to absorb carbon dioxide, but really, if they replace lush, diverse, natural forests, we can’t be better off, especially if they require artificial irrigation and chemical support.
I’ve gathered some alternatives:

  • Harvest a tree sustainably from a local forest that’s managed well.
  • Get an organically-grown tree from a local farm to reduce transportation emissions and chemical fertilizers and pesticides. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to find a grower in your area through Green Promise or LocalHarvest.
  • Buy a potted tree or grow your own and then plant it in your yard the next spring. You’ll be doing your part to re-forest the planet.

Here’s a kit from Organic Bouquet, or you could start from scratch with wisdom from the experts: Christmas Trees: Growing and Selling Trees…

I think this year, we might just try one of the grow-your-own options. It’ll be a good educational experience for the kids and will give us a seedling that we can then plant in the spring. Should be fun.

– Lucy goes Green