Wednesday, November 21, 2007

O Christmas Tree

What smacks of Christmas more than hoisting up the ole Christmas tree and decorating it with the bobbles and trinkets collected over the years? Some of you may wonder if it would be better to buy a plastic tree and let the real one be. I mean, chopping down a perfectly healthy tree to doll it up for a few weeks then leave it out for the chopper hardly seems a fitting end to something as magnificent as a tree.

It’s a dilemma isn’t it? Here are the environmental pros and cons of plastic and real:


  • Lasts up to 10 years.


  • Lasts for hundreds of years in a landfill and, as it’s made from toxic PVC, leaches into groundwater. PVC contains Phthalates, which accumulate in body tissues and can damage liver, lungs, and have been shown in lower mammals to damage reproductive organs.
  • Plastic trees are manufactured overseas with lax environmental laws and working conditions and carted to a big box store, wracking up carbon miles and undermining local economies.



  • Harvested from tree farms, often on soil that can’t support other crops. Tree roots help stabilize the soil, preventing flooding.
  • Tree farms are constantly being replanted.
  • While growing, the trees act as carbons sinks, filter the air and provide habitat for species.
  • Trees on the farm are selectively harvested.
  • Post Christmas trees end up in municipal composting or as mulch, returning to the earth.
  • Christmas trees are grown locally, generate jobs and support the local economy.


  • Many tree farm businesses use pesticides which damages soil, poisons groundwater and hurts species that call trees their home.


  • Look for organically grown Christmas trees. This is a challenge, but not an insurmountable one. But isn’t the planet worth it?
  • Buy a potted tree, decorate it, give plenty of water and, after Christmas, plant it in your yard or a friend’s, or unsuspecting neighbour’s. Keep in your home no more than a week.
  • Put your presents under your rubber tree plant.

Tree Decorations

  • Please avoid tinsel.
  • If you want lights, ensure they are LED.
  • If a decoration looks like it was mass-produced in a Chinese factory, it probably was. Avoid cheap. Visit Ten Thousand Villages for fair trade decorations. Have your children make them. Those are often the best.

Green Happenings

Buy Nothing Day
It’s actually this Friday, November 23 in North America and November 24 everywhere else. Give your wallet a rest this Friday.

Green Design in an Urban Setting - Lecture by David Moses
Brought to you by Architecture for Humanity (and my friends Liz and Dave)
November 26
6:30 – 9:30 pm
Gardiner Museum, Toronto

Rally Around the Earth for Climate Justice and a Safer, Healthier Planet!
Rally on December 8. It promises to big the largest rally to date.

In the News

Ban Ki-moon urges climate change breakthrough in Bali after dire report released
“I can tell you with assurance that global, sweeping, concerted action is needed now. There is no time to waste.”

Other News

BBC – The Greenroom

Ecoshock Radio

Green Bloggers

Grist Magazine


My Green Element

New York Times – Environment

Tree Hugger

Zerofootprint Blog

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