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Which Christmas tree option is best for the climate

Which Christmas tree option is best for the climate

This is the time of year when Americans are done with Thanksgiving and head out to find the best holiday sales. They also plan their Christmas tree, which is the centerpiece of their home. Plus, choosing a planet-friendly tree will likely get you on Santa’s good list.So, which kind of tree has the lowest carbon footprint — a natural tree or a store-bought plastic tree? Experts say it’s complicated.”It’s definitely a lot more nuanced and complex than you think,” Andy Finton, the landscape conservation director and forest ecologist for the Nature Conservancy in Massachusetts, told CNN.We’ve made a list — and checked it twice — of the things to know before you choose between real and artificial.The case for artificial treesIt’s easy to imagine that reusing an artificial tree year after year is the more sustainable option. Finton claims that artificial trees are more expensive than natural trees if they are used for less than six year.Finton stated to CNN, “If artificial trees are used for longer periods of time, that balance changes.” “And I have read that it would take twenty years for the carbon balance equivalent to be equal.”This is because artificial trees are usually made from polyvinyl chloride plastic (or PVC). Plastic is petroleum-based, and made at polluting petrochemical plants. PVC plastic has been linked to cancer and other environmental and public health risks. The US Department of Commerce states that most artificial Christmas trees are imported from China. This means that the products are transported by fossil fuel-powered ships across Pacific Ocean to reach the United States. Finally, the product is then moved by heavy freight trucks until it lands at the destination. A study by WAP Sustainability Consulting was conducted in 2018. It found that artificial trees have a better environmental impact than real trees if they are used for at least five consecutive years.Jami Warner, ACTA’s executive director, stated that artificial trees were examined for factors such as manufacturing and international transportation. Real trees require seven to eight years of field cultivation. This means that they need to be watered, fertilized, and planted.According to the National Christmas Tree Association (NCTA), it takes seven to eight years to grow a Christmas Tree. As it grows, it absorbs carbon dioxide. By removing the planet-warming gas, trees and forests can be protected. Doug Hundley, spokesperson of the National Christmas Tree Association, said that the act to cut down Christmas trees on farms is balanced by farmers planting more seedlings to replace them.Hundley stated that when we harvest the trees, we plant them back very quickly. According to Recreation.gov, cutting down thin trees in dense areas can improve forest health.But Finton doesn’t recommend pulling a Clark Griswold and chopping down a massive tree to haul home — especially if it’s in an area you’re not permitted for. Finton recommends that you get a tree from a local farmer instead.He said that the advantage of going to a Christmas tree farm is that it concentrates the effects of removing trees in one place. “And it places the responsibility on the farmers for regenerating those trees.There is also an economic advantage to going natural since most trees people end up buying are grown at nearby farms. The National Christmas Tree Association reports that over 100,000 people work in the industry. There are about 15,000 farms that grow Christmas trees in the U.S.Finton stated, “What we are doing by purchasing a natural christmas tree is supporting local economies and local communities, local farmers, and that to me, is a key piece of the conservation equation.” Tree growers who can reap the economic benefits of their land are less likely to sell it to developers and less likely convert it to other uses.”Disposal mattersTrees pile up on the curbs after the holidays are over, and the final destination in many locations is landfills, where they contribute to emissions of methane — a powerful greenhouse gas roughly 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide.Hundley stated that it is strongly discouraged for real Christmas trees to end up in landfills. He also said that there should be separate areas for yard waste where they can go.However, some cities and towns recycle the trees to help the environment and the climate. New York City trees that are left on curbs for more than a year are taken to be recycled and composted. MulchFest is an initiative run by the city’s sanitation department. Residents can bring their trees to be mulched and used to rehabilitate other trees around the city.”When the tree is finished being used by the homeowner, it’s very easy and common in America to have the tree chipped up into mulch — and that’s stored carbon is put back in the ground,” Hundley added.Finton also says former Christmas trees can be reused for habitat restoration; they can help control erosion if placed along stream and river banks, and can even help underwater habitats thrive if they are placed in rivers and lakes.The end of life for an artificial tree is much different. They end up in landfills — where they could take hundreds of years to decompose — or incinerators, where they release hazardous chemicals.The bottom lineWeighing the complicated climate pros and cons, real Christmas trees have the edge. If you decide to decorate your Christmas tree artificially, you should feel confident about your decision and look for other solutions to the climate crisis.”It’s a debate, but once you’ve made a decision, you should feel good about your decision, because there’s so many other things we can do in our lives that have an even greater climate impact — such as driving less or advocating for policies that expand renewable energy,” Finton said. Enjoy the holidays and be mindful of other aspects of your daily life that can reduce the effects of climate change.

This is the time of the year that most Americans end Thanksgiving leftovers, and head out to search for new food. best holiday sales. They plan their Christmas tree as the centerpiece of the home.

Some people love the smell of a real tree, and others enjoy the experience of picking one at a local farm. Others prefer artificial trees that they can reuse for future Christmases.

Consumers are becoming more environmentally conscious and it is important to consider which tree will have the least impact on the planet’s rapidly warming environment. You will be on Santa’s good side if you choose a tree that is friendly to the planet.

So, which kind of tree has the lowest carbon footprint — a natural tree or a store-bought plastic tree? Experts say it’s complicated.

CNN’s Andy Finton, landscape conservation director and forest ecologist for the Nature Conservancy of Massachusetts, stated that “it’s definitely more nuanced, complex than you think.”

We’ve made a list — and checked it twice — of the things to know before you choose between real and artificial.

Artificial trees: What is the case?

It is easy to believe that artificial trees can be reused year after year. Finton claims that artificial trees are more expensive than natural trees if they are used for less than six year.

Finton said that artificial trees have a longer life span, which would alter the carbon balance. “And I have read that it would take twenty years for the carbon balance equal to natural gas.”

Artificial trees are usually made of polyvinylchloride plastic, or PVC. Plastic is petroleum-based and made at pollution-belching Petrochemical Facilities. Studies have also shown that plastic is also made at polluting petrochemical facilities. linked PVC plastic to cancerand other environmental and public health risks.

The transportation aspect is also important. The US Department of Commerce states that most artificial Christmas trees are imported from China to the U.S.

The American Christmas Tree Association, an organization that represents artificial tree manufacturers, has commissioned WAP Sustainability consulting for a study in 2018An artificial tree has a better environmental impact than a real one if it is used for at least five consecutive years.

“Artificial trees were examined [in the study]Jami Warner, executive director at ACTA, stated that these factors include manufacturing and overseas transport. “Planting, fertilizing, and watering were considered for real trees, which have an average field cultivation period of seven to 8 years.”

What are the benefits of real trees and how can they be used to your advantage?

According to the National Christmas Tree Association it takes seven to eight years to grow a Christmas Tree. As it grows, it absorbs carbon dioxide. The best way to prevent the worst effects of climate change is to plant trees and protect forests. removing the planet-warming gasThe atmosphere.

Trees can release carbon back into the atmosphere if they are cut down or burnt. Doug Hundley, spokesperson of the National Christmas Tree Association, who advocates for real trees, said that the act to cut down Christmas trees on a farm can be balanced by farmers planting more seedlings to replace them.

Grounds crew load cut and packaged Christmas trees onto trucks at Noble Mountain Tree Farm in Salem, Oregon, in 2020.

Nathan Howard/Getty Images

In 2020, Noble Mountain Tree Farm in Salem (Oregon) has its ground crew load Christmas trees on trucks.

Hundley said, “When we harvest or cut the trees, we plant back very fast.”

You might find the idea of trekking through the forest to find the perfect tree appealing. buy a permit from the U.S. Forest ServiceThis encourages people to cut their trees rather than buying an artificial one. Recreation.gov says that cutting down trees in dense areas may improve forest health.

Finton does not recommend pulling. a Clark Griswold and chopping down a massive tree to haul home — especially if it’s in an area you’re not permitted for. He suggests that you purchase a tree from your local farm instead.

He said that the advantage of going to a Christmas tree nursery, which is different from cutting a tree in a forest, was that it concentrates the effects of removing trees in one place. “And it places the responsibility on farmers to regenerate those tree.”

Natural trees are also more economically profitable as most of the trees that people end up buying are grown at nearby farms. Over 100,000 people work in the industry full-time or part-time, and approximately 15,000 farms in the United States grow Christmas trees. according to the National Christmas Tree Association.

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Finton stated, “What we are doing by purchasing a natural Christmas Tree is supporting local economies and local communities, local farmers, and that to me, is a key part the conservation equation.” “A tree grower who can reap economic benefits from their land is less likely to sell it for development or convert it to another use.”

Disposal matters

Trees pile up on the curbs after the holidays are over, and the final destination in many locations is landfills, where they contribute to emissions of methane — a powerful greenhouse gasIt is approximately 80 times more potent that carbon dioxide.

Hundley said that real Christmas trees should not end up in landfills. He also stated that there must be “separate areas for yard debris where Christmas trees can go.”

Some cities and towns repurpose trees to benefit the environment and climate. New York City’s trees are collected from curbsides after a specified time to be recycled or composted. The city sanitation department also runs an initiative called MulchFestResidents can bring their trees to the City Tree Nursery to be chipped and used to feed other trees.

“When the tree is finished being used by the homeowner, it’s very easy and common in America to have the tree chipped up into mulch — and that’s stored carbon is put back in the ground,” Hundley added.

Finton also believes that old Christmas trees can still be used to restore habitat. They can be placed along stream banks and can control erosion.

Artificial trees have a different end of life. They end up in landfills — where they could take hundreds of years to decompose — or incinerators, where they release hazardous chemicals.

The bottom line

Real Christmas trees have the edge, despite the many climate pros and cons. If you decide to decorate your Christmas tree artificially, make sure you get a tree that you will love and be able to reuse for many years.

Finton stated that people should feel satisfied with their decision and look for other solutions to the climate crisis.

“It’s a debate, but once you’ve made a decision, you should feel good about your decision, because there’s so many other things we can do in our lives that have an even greater climate impact — such as driving less or advocating for policies that expand renewable energy,” Finton said. Enjoy the holidays, and put your efforts into other areas of your life that will reduce the impact of climate change.

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