Decorating Christmas with evergreens was not a Christmas tradition.
This is because evergreen trees were used to decorate winter in the BC (Before Christ). years. The trees were not decorated at that time. The first tree decoration took place in Riga, Latvia in 1510. In 1531, Germany was the first country to mention a Christmas tree.
People started decorating Christmas trees with small candles in the 1700s. This likely led to the tradition of lighting your home with a Christmas tree. Thomas Edison’s assistant in 1882 suggested lighting trees with string lights. It was a great idea that took off.
President Franklin Pierce directed the decorating of the first White House Christmas Tree in 1856. This tradition was continued until President Teddy Roosevelt banned Christmas trees for environmental reasons. Roosevelt started the tree tradition over again, but Truman enjoyed Missouri holidays so he lit his tree with a remote.
The real Christmas tree
There are approximately 15,500 Christmas tree farms across the United States. They grow nearly 400 million trees on approximately 400,000 acres. It takes an average Christmas tree 10 years to grow. After that, it is cut down and then sold. The average price for a Christmas tree in the United States is $50, and there are approximately 25 million trees sold each year. These trees are very rare to come from a forest.
Real Christmas trees can live for 10 years and then be thrown away after four weeks. This does not sound like an environmentally-friendly process or is it?
It turns out that it may not be so harmful and may even help the environment. One acre of Christmas tree provides enough oxygen to support 18 people per year. After the holidays, more than 90% are used to make mulch, erosion control, and compost. To keep their farms producing, most farmers plant two tree seedlings per cut.
However, not all Christmas trees are created equal in terms of the environment. It takes a lot of gas to transport a tree from Oregon to a person’s home. The closest tree to its owner is therefore the most green. Every state has Christmas tree farmers.
The fake Christmas tree
Many people are embarrassed by the thought of having an evergreen tree that is 10 years old cut down to be able to use it for a few more weeks before throwing it away. Instead, they installed artificial trees that can be used every year. Artificial trees can be used year after year to save trees. However, artificial trees are made from steel or PVC plastic. These processes require resources, use energy, and pollute the environment to make artificial trees. Artificial trees are mainly made in China so transportation energy is required to get them to you.
However, artificial trees are only affected once. If you keep your artificial tree for ten years, the environmental impact of having it in your home will be about equal. However, most people keep their artificial trees for just six years. Then it goes to the dump and stays there for hundreds more years.
What is the solution?
There is no one right answer. Artificial trees and real trees are not as harmful to the environment as many people believe. It all depends on how you behave.
If you buy a tree from a local source, your city will recycle it when you are done. This is a very eco-friendly practice. However, if an artificial tree is purchased and kept for at least 10 year, then you are also being eco-friendly.
Bottom line: Get whatever tree makes your heart happy, but make sure it is as eco-friendly as you can. LED lights can be used to light your tree. You will be able to save a lot on electricity and pollute less the air.
Mike Szydlowski serves as science coordinator at Columbia Public Schools.
TIME FOR A POPP QUIZ
1. Are Christmas tree companies causing forests to lose all their evergreens? Why or why not?
2. How many Christmas trees are grown on an acre in a farm environment?
3. How much money are Americans spending on Christmas trees each year?
4. Which tree is more eco-friendly, a real or artificial?
5. It doesn’t matter which tree someone uses, how can they make it more environmentally-friendly?
LAST WEEKS POP Q&A ANSWERS
1. How is sand made
Sand is made from wind and water erosion which reduces larger rocks into smaller, more manageable pieces.
2. Why do we need so much sand?
Sand is a necessary component of almost every construction project. We are constantly building things. A lot of sand is required to build beaches and shorelines.
3. Why can’t we use desert sand to build or for beach purposes?
Desert sand is too soft to hold together. For construction and beach projects, you need slightly jagged soil that holds together better.
4. Why is the sand crise getting worse due to climate change?
As the climate heats, ocean levels rise and coastal areas are forced to increase their costs to save them.
5. Why is it that some beaches don’t have natural sand?
The land’s materials and the direction and energy of ocean currents will determine how much sand is deposited on beaches. Sometimes conditions are not right for sand deposit in an area.