Are Live Christmas Trees a Green Option?
While the first record of a decorated Christmas tree goes back to early sixteenth century Latvia, in the United States, the custom traces its beginnings to early German immigrants. By 1851, Holiday trees were harvested randomly from the forest and sold commercially.
As far back as the early 1900s, the over-harvesting of Christmas trees alarmed early conservationists and threatened America’s forests. According to some anecdotes, Theodore Roosevelt’s deforestation concerns led him to ban the Christmas tree from the White House during his presidency. The public and the press also voiced opposition to the Christmas tree “fad” and its un-American pagan roots.
The birth of Christmas tree farms
Meanwhile, artificial Christmas trees appeared in various forms and Roosevelt’s young sons managed to decorate a tree that they cut down on the White House lawn. The practice of planting Christmas trees as a crop began with the planting of 25,000 Norway spruce seedlings on a farm near Trenton, New Jersey. Six years later, the trees were sold to customers who visited to select, cut, and purchase them. Thus, began the U.S. Christmas tree industry.
Tree farms are environmentally-friendly
Although the perception that growing and cutting Christmas trees is bad for the environment persists, Christmas trees are a renewable resource and unlike factory farming operations, are actually supportive of the environment. Christmas trees are grown on dedicated farms just like any other agricultural crop. Growers plant one or more seedlings for every tree harvested. And, in many ways, Christmas tree farms are good for the environment for the following reasons:
- Prevent soil erosion
- Slow water runoff
- Filter rain and snow
- Capture pollutants
- Provide a wildlife habitat
- Preserve open space
Surprisingly, that live Christmas tree is probably a better choice than the realistic-looking artificial model. Although an artificial tree can be reused, most are made in China and may contain petrochemicals or lead. The life span of the average artificial Christmas tree is six to nine years, ending buried in a landfill for centuries. A fresh cut tree can be recycled as mulch or a bird or fish habitat.
A live Christmas tree this holiday season
Today, 25-30 million Christmas trees are sold in the United States each year, with the majority of them coming from commercial Christmas tree farms. Today’s environmentally conscious young consumers are opting for a live Christmas tree for several reasons:
- For its beauty and scent
- To support agriculture
- For the experience of selecting and cutting it
- To create new holiday traditions
To find a Christmas trees or tree farms in your area, search https://www.localharvest.org. And may all your Christmases be green!