Let’s just briefly unpack the sustainability of Christmas trees. Christmas tree choices are generally:
Cut tree (dead tree)
Potted Christmas tree (living tree)
Some people might think that a fake tree could be the more environmentally friendly choice, since you are re-using the tree each year and don’t have to cut down a tree. There has been real debate about this. However, these fakes are usually made in China from PVC, metal and steel, then shipped to you. Plus they have nasty chemicals. After 10? 15? years it becomes hard to recycle because of the mixed materials, and usually goes into the trash. Yuck. (Props to you though, if you are still using granny’s artificial one and keeping it out of the garbage — at one point I did think of buying an artificial one off of Craigslist!)
Next choice: the cut tree. Christmas trees are actually a crop. They are grown, harvested, and the 1-3 trees are replanted in their place. Apparently, they can also be planted on slopes and barren areas to make good use of otherwise unusable crop land. And, these acres of fir tree farms consume 12,000 lbs of carbon per acre! They do have cons: they can have a high transportation carbon footprint and like other non organic crops, the chemicals used to grow them can be polluting.
Last choice: the potted tree! I was at the hardware store this weekend and a hipster couple had an adorable 2-3 foot potted tree for their pad! Some things to consider about this choice: can you repot that tree in your yard? If you keep it in the pot, can you keep it alive in your climate? Apparently, the limit indoors is just about 10 days. Do some homework!
Using lights (don’t forget to unplug it!):
And finally … for Hawaii … secret option 5!!!!!
At Helemano Farms, they offer both cut spruce and cut Norfolk Pines.
A spruce takes 3 years to grow back into a new tree. A Norfolk pine is really cool — the farm cuts the top of a LIVE tree, and in 1 year, the top of the tree will grow back 5 feet. The pictures show how the new tree sprouts from the cut trunk from the previous year:
See that little guy sprouting from the trunk?
Amazing! This choice felt right to us this year: we drove our EV car out to the farm on all electricity, and will put the tree out in the green waste in the new year. We didn’t have to cut down a live tree, and are supporting a local farm.