>> Monday, 14 December 2009
Indian Christmas means people decorating plants and trees in their backyard/front yard. Climatic conditions and traditions in Americas, Europe and elsewhere have people putting up Christmas trees indoors to usher in the festive season.
In the USA and other developed parts of the world, retail chains stock up large quantities of real and fake Christmas trees. Long aisles are packed with plastic Christmas trees and other related decor.
I cannot keep myself from weighing the impact of these Christmas decor, buying and shipping gifts etc, have on the environment. Let us assume that we cannot forgo traditions and have to put a Christmas tree. The least we could do is to go green with your choice. Here is the tree at Washington DC senate. :)
There has been a long standing debate on which was a more earth friendly choice - using a real tree or buying a plastic one. (Assuming that the plastic/factory made tree would be reused for a few years to come). As always, I set out researching for stats on what makes the earth bleed lesser (with regards to Christmas trees this time)...and found a few articles online. I thought I'd share snippets from my research.
Comparative carbon footprint (source: Earthtime.com )
One uses the same plastic tree for nearly 20 years to match their carbon footprint as one natural tree felled each year. As much as it is not great to chop trees, we may have to bear with people making this alternative to any plastic junk. More than 3 kilograms of carbon dioxide is produced in the growing, transportation and disposal of a real tree compared with the 48 kilograms produced in the manufacture of the average artificial tree.
Why not plastic...
Most plastic trees are made of polyethylene (PEE) and the cheaper ones are made of poly vinyl chloride (PVC), both have high recycling cost and even when recycled have by products which are similar to tiny pellets. These pellet like bits end up in the digestive track of marine life and then into the food chain. Phew!
One thing is for sure, any plastic produced, is never going to go away...so the choice is nothing but a real tree, (the lesser evil angle!). If by using a plastic tree, you thought that you were saving a tree from being cut, think again, you are actually choosing to increase instances of neural disorders. It is not just a coincidence that issues such as ADHD, autism etc have become a cause of concern. Deep routed "throw away" culture, means that consistent use of anything is never a possibility. The plastic or any styrofoam trees would land in the garbage some day.
We also need to consider all the energy and resources spent on production, packaging and shipping of these trees to your living room. Plastic trees are known to contain lead and other toxins which will enter your home environment. Simply put, you are inviting neurological disorders into your life once you make a "plastic" choice with things.
Choosing a real tree doesn't exactly mean that there are no issues either. Most real trees you buy from stores and nurseries are "farmed" there by wasting precious land and resources. Other impacts on the environment are due to packaging, shipping and disposal of these trees.
- You would want to try "non tree decorations"
- Renting a tree - look for options to rent a tree which could go back to a community garden or a bio reserve.
- Use a potted fir tree and plant it in your own backyard or your community after Christmas. This way you would have helped increase the number of trees in your neighbourhood at the end of the holiday season.
Have a merry holiday season and be kind to the planet...