Ninety-eight percent of all American Christmas trees are grown on the more than 21,000 Christmas tree farms; these farms eat up about 450,000 acres of land. It takes about 7-10 years for a Christmas tree to mature, and for every harvested tree, 2-3 seedlings are planted.
Retail tree lots are a New York City tradition that dates back to 1851. Thirty years after that, an assistant of Thomas Edison’s conjured up the prescient notion of hanging electric lights on Christmas trees. By 1890, such lights were being mass-produced and tree lightings would eventually become the ceremony of choice for those who don’t mind triple-digit electricity bills.
It’s easy to see why just about everyone loves “real” Christmas trees: the trimming parties, the look in a child’s eyes when catching sight of the lights and tinsel, and most of all, the smell. But there’s another durable American tradition that eventually marks the unofficial end to all holiday spirit. That is, of course, the discarded trees lying near the garbage cans on the sidewalk.
Just a few weeks earlier, those trees were leaning almost upright with price tags dangling from their shiny branches. Now they lie horizontal, a few tenacious strands of tinsel clinging to the razor-sharp needles. Since we’re taught to perceive Christmas trees as disposable, they ultimately become someone else’s problem.
Sure, we’ve evolved to the practice of widespread recycling of post-holiday trees. But that doesn’t change the root of this situation: Some 450,000 acres of land are set aside to plant and grow trees destined to be cut down and sold for about ten days’ use before being unceremoniously tossed out onto the pavement.
To make this Christmas the greenest, say no to fir.
3 Other Ways to Green Your Tree Tradition:
Plastic trees – imported from china at the rate of 150,000 or so per year – are not the answer. The following three choices might be right for you… and the planet:
1. Live Potted Tree
This practice involves paying a small fee to “rent” a live potted tree, which is then picked up after the holidays and re-planted. There are a handful of businesses in the New York area that participate.
2. Cork Ornaments
Since holidays go hand in hand with the imbibing of spirits, why not recycle those wine bottles corks into tree ornaments, wreaths, etc.?
3. Feed the Birds
If you do choose to purchase a “live” tree, by all means do not toss it on the sidewalk. Transform it into a bird feeder for those cold winter months.