Updated: Dec 10, 2020
The most Wonderfull time of the year is nearing! However, Christmas often goes hand in hand with the most wasteful time of the year. Think about gifts (packaging/wrapping paper and shipping materials), food, clothes (for special events) and holidays cards. Here I gave you some options for zero waste gifts. Below you can read some tips on how to make your Christmas tree more eco-friendly.
The first thing you might think is to buy a real tree instead of a plastic one. At first glance, this might be a good option as a natural tree is completely compostable. Right? You might want to reconsider…
I did some research and this is what I found: “In the most definitive study of the perennial real vs. fake question, an environmental consulting firm in Montreal found that an artificial tree would have to be reused for more than 20 years to be greener than buying a fresh-cut tree annually. The calculations included greenhouse gas emissions, use of resources and human health impacts.”
This was kind of a shock for me but when you think about it some more it might make sense. Every year around 30 million trees are harvested (meaning cut) in the US and about 50 million are harvested within Europe. All these trees absorb greenhouse gasses while growing and produce oxygen. Awesome!
However, once they are cut, they need to be transported and after the holidays, the Christmas tree is often discarded. Did you know that less 1% of all the Christmas tree produced end up being composted? Composting companies often can’t handle this large supply at once resulting in the burning of the trees.
When I was a kid, all the Christmas three were gathered after new years and throw in a large pile. Then the trees would be lit on fire (all controlled by the local fire department). When I was smaller I thought this was so cool as the whole sky turned orange that night, nowadays I just see wasted recourses.
Now a fake Christmas tree doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. Yes, a lot of greenhouse gasses are released and fossil fuels are used during the production of a fake tree but a fake tree lasts for years. Because of this long life span, the greenhouse gas emission per year is much lower compared to a real tree.
How about a potted Christmas tree you might think. Well, great question. Are you going to use the same tree for Christmas next year?
No? Then it really isn’t much better than all the other trees that have been cut.
Yes? Great! Please keep in mind that a tree is a living plant and you need to take care of it otherwise it will die. Yes, you need to water your Christmas tree. This will also prevent the needles from falling. A Christmas tree that has been inside your house for a couple of weeks (where it is nice and warm) will likely die if you place it outside immediately after Christmas. The temperature shock will likely kill it. Give the tree an adjustment period in a shed where it is cooler but not freezing so it can adjust to the lower temperature. After about a week you can place it outside.
An other option is to just don’t have a Christmas tree or DIY something nice.