Monday, November 19, 2007
artificial v real christmas trees - ahhh, the choice
"Get the biggest aluminum tree you can find, Charlie Brown, maybe painted pink." - Lucy Van Pelt
With Thanksgiving this week and the Christ the King Sunday this Sunday, we have moved from "I-hate-that-stores-decorate-for-Christmas-before-Halloween" to "It's-time-to-start-thinking-about-Christmas". It's true. Despite our efforts to hold the commercialism of Christmas at bay, December 2 is around the corner bringing with it the "advent of Advent" and the slinging of Christmas decorations about our houses and churches. Thus comes the annual question of environmentalists and Christians with conscience regarding the tree, "Real or artificial?"
I have asked this question myself. Should I buy a farmed tree and participate in the carbon suck of the tree farm industry or purchase a tree that can be used year after year despite the "tacky" factor involved in the fake tree? After quite a bit of research, I've come down on the issue: I'm getting a real one..and if you get one, so should you.
Online magazine Grist's advice columnist Umbra Fisk aka "Ask Umbra" has written two articles on the issue and has helped to persuade me to the real tree. In an article written in 2004, she tackles the issue of real v articial. During her research, she discovered that articial trees are primarily made in and then transported from China. Almost all artificial trees are made of PVC, which is a petroleum product. And, sometimes lead is used to stabilize PVC. So, run away from the idea of an artificial tree. Northwest Cable News' Wilson Chow spoke with the a representative from Strategic Energy Group and found the same thing. If you get a tree, get a real one.
Some people buy live trees with the goal of planting them after the holiday season. This, in theory, is a great idea. However, if you are like me, you live in a city where planting a tree is not an easy thing to do. Furthermore, it's important when planting a tree to take into account the terrain, the climate, and care of the tree. For most of us a live tree doesn't make practical sense.
Buying a real tree has its complications, that's for sure. If you can, buy local and look for an organic farm. The fewer miles travelled and the fewer pesticides used in farming the tree help reduce the environmental impact of your purchase. If you find a tree outlet that supports a nonprofit organization, that sells locally farmed trees, and that uses organic methods in their farming, tell everyone you know to buy from them! The only way to impact the tree farming industry is to support the farmers who make the move to organic farming. For more about the possibilities for organic trees, see "Ask Umbra's" latest column.
UPDATE: If you're in the Seattle area, Puget Sound Fresh lists the following tree farms as "Claimed Ecologically Sound:"
Fall City Farms - Fall City - King County - 425-222-4553
Cedar Falls Tree Farm - North Bend - King County - 425-888-3216
Stocker Farms - Snohomish - Snohomish - 360-568-7391
If you're looking for organic, Garden Treasures in Arlington, Washington says they carry them.
Looking for a tree and you live outside of Washington State? Here you go!
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