Now that Thanksgiving is over it’s time to dust off the Christmas decorations and get into the holiday spirit. There’s a lot to be said for bringing color and light into the home during an otherwise dark and chilly time of year (in the Northeast that is). You can deck the halls with garlands, wreaths, poinsettias, lights, candles and cones; but in many homes the piece de resistance is the Christmas tree.
There is some debate about which is more environmentally friendly; a real or a fake tree. In researching both sides of the debate, my vote is that a real tree is more eco-friendly, and you just can’t beat the smell!
|Beverly Tree Farm, Beverly MA|
A real tree grows for about 10 years before being cut, during which time it is contributing to the environment by cleaning the air and offering habitat for wildlife. Trees are grown as crops, and your purchase from a tree farm helps support the farmer that produces that crop. Once the holidays are over, a Christmas tree can be chipped for mulch or compost that is reused in the landscape.
A fake tree, on the other hand, is typically made from PVC, a plastic that can release volatile toxins into the air and will never decompose in the natural environment. Most fake trees are from China and have a relatively large carbon footprint from their manufacturing and shipping.
If you love having a real tree, try to buy one from a local farm (one that uses sustainable farming methods is great), and make sure to recycle the tree once the holidays are over. The National Christmas Tree Association website has lots of information on where to find trees, and where to recycle them. Here in Boston, the city will pick up your tree, if left curbside (unadorned) on recycling day, for the first two weeks of January.
|Balsam Fir needles|
In terms of which type of tree to select, it depends what you like! The most common Christmas trees here in New England are Firs (Fraser, Balsam, Grand, Concolor, Douglas). They hold their needles well and have that great Christmas tree smell.
As much as you love having a Christmas tree, imagine what it might mean to a group of soldiers who can’t be home for the holidays. Trees for troops is a great program where you can donate a live Christmas tree to be shipped to a military base. Though there is a lot of energy used to ship the trees, it just seems worth it! You can contribute a tree locally at any one of the Mahoney’s Garden Centers, but you have to do so by December 2nd.
Happy Christmas tree shopping!