To tree or not to tree, that is the question

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Well, it's that time of year again and we have to look at this question again.

ChristmasTreeFarmOften it is reckoned that a real tree is better than an artificial one for reasons that the latter is made from oil-based materials, often, and thus has a serious impact on the environment.

Natural Christmas trees, however, also are not without an impact on the environment and the Planet. Far from it and especially the “Christmas tree farms” are a problem to the environment in that they, more often than not, are the wrong kind of trees in the wrong place.

While real Christmas trees, grown on farms, take up to 15 years to reach harvestable size during which time they improve air quality by emitting oxygen and, to some extent provide habitat for wildlife – often on ground that is unsuitable for other crops, such as steep slopes and areas beneath power lines, the fact remains that those trees are, afterwards a problem for waste management unless they can be burned for heat or mulched for compost.

If the trees come from so-called forest thinnings, as is the case in many cases in forest areas, then the real tree may be fine to use as, otherwise, it would go up in smoke only, as per practice in the woods. But that is more the exception that the rule today.

The real environmentally friendly choice, I am afraid to say, is to forgo the tree entirely unless you want to make one out of some waste materials. And while we are at it, and I am a bit of a spoilsport here, why not abandon this consumerism holiday altogether. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the birth of Christ, absolutely nothing and the tree also has nothing to do with it.

There are good and bad sides to both tree option, whether real or artificial, that the best choice is not to have a “Christmas” tree at all and, if you want to decorate for the Yuletide, the Birthday of the Sun, or whatever, but it is not Christmas and the time of the birth of Christ, then use evergreen branches, such as Holly (Ilex ilex), Fir, Spruce, or Yew but don't go and cut down a tree. Use also other natural materials, such as pine cones, twigs and such, to make the winter festival decoration, if you will. Leave the tree standing, however. Better for the environment, and that in more than one way.

© 2014