What Kind of Christmas Tree is Greener?

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Many homesteaders work hard to lower their impact on the planet in a negative way. What may be a simple decision for a non-homesteader becomes a challenging decision for someone who considers the environmental implications of their choice. This brings us to one of our big Christmas debates. Real Christmas tree or fake?

A simple decision for some becomes a challenging decision for someone who considers the environmental implications of their choice. Real Christmas tree or fake?

Before I begin, let me tell you that there is no right or wrong answer here. The decision you make for your Tannenbaum comes down to weighing pros and cons, and choosing the option wisely.

The Fake Christmas Tree

An artificial tree has less environmental impact if the tree is kept for five or more years and recycled or donated after use. When it compares to purchasing a live tree from a tree farm, the artificial tree wins hands-down. This becomes more and more true the further south you live, since most tree farms are located in the northern region of the U.S. and are trucked south.

Artificial Christmas trees are made from PVC. This plastic is stable and does not affect human health when used properly. Obviously, when burning, it’s still releasing fumes, but if your tree is on fire, you have bigger issues. PVC requires 70% less energy to manufacture than other plastic options and recycles well. If you purchase an artificial tree, make sure it’s PVC.

A simple decision for some becomes a challenging decision for someone who considers the environmental implications of their choice. Real Christmas tree or fake?

The Real Christmas Tree

We already compared farm-grown trees to artificial as far as energy usage, but consider this as well: Tree farming is a form of agriculture. We know that many agricultural facilities use pesticides and herbicides. Tree farms are no different. Unless you have an organic tree farm located in your own town, tree farms might not be a great option. Of course, the flip side of the coin is that proceeds from tree farm trees often go to great causes, such as the local fire department or children’s charity, but it’s okay to drop off a check without picking up a tree. Sorry guys, but this is one time I personally cannot support my local farmer.

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Getting your tree from nature is a wonderful choice, but obviously it isn’t a choice available to everyone. If you have a friend or family member with lots of acreage, doing things “the old-fashioned way” is the greatest way to embrace the holiday spirit with little impact on the environment. Will your tree be perfectly manicured? No, but that quality gives your tree a bit of charm. I have been known to use an electric drill and a big drill bit to drill holes into the trunk of the tree and insert branches into the holes to fill the gaps. You can also hide holes or gaps by strategically positioning your tree and arranging your ornaments.

A simple decision for some becomes a challenging decision for someone who considers the environmental implications of their choice. Real Christmas tree or fake?

Now, real trees aren’t all bad. Thanks to “treecycling” programs all over the country, trees are being recycled for mulch, erosion control and landscaping practices. Yay! If you are a wood-stove owning homesteader, you can even chop and save your tree for next year’s fire. Make sure if you choose a real tree, you find out where you can recycle your tree. Our local transfer station offers this program on site.

Our Family Tradition

We are fortunate enough to have a family friend with plenty of trees for the taking. Going trudging through the woods to find the perfect tree with the kids is a tradition that I love. It’s very much like the Maine Christmas Song.  We go and have lunch with our friends, exchange small gifts, select our trees, and help decorate theirs. There have been some serious Charlie Brown trees in our history, but the experience makes them the most perfect trees ever.

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A simple decision for some becomes a challenging decision for someone who considers the environmental implications of their choice. Real Christmas tree or fake?

Is space an issue? Spring Mountain Living offers a great DIY Christmas tree for small spaces.

Homemade Ornaments

Regardless of the tree you choose, homemade ornaments are a great way to decorate your Christmas tree. Not only does it allow you to step back from the commercial aspects of the holiday, but it adds a homestead whimsy to your home.

Popsicle Stick Stars & Glitter Snowflakes from Cooke’s Frontier
Conifer Cone Ornaments from MomPrepares
Fabric Vintage Stars from Melissa K. Norris
Borax Crystal Ornaments and Decoupage Ornaments from SchneiderPeeps
Blown Egg Ornaments from The Free Range Life
and if you’re still looking, Chicken Scratch NY has a whole slew of ideas.

This Homemade Rag Quilt Wreath found on Melissa K. Norris may not fit on your tree, but it was so darling I had to share.

Timber Creek Farm has this great tradition for ornament boxes that is worth checking out. I love the idea.

A simple decision for some becomes a challenging decision for someone who considers the environmental implications of their choice. Real Christmas tree or fake?

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I am a non-traditional homesteader. What is a non-traditional homesteader? I'd like to think we are the people who don't fit the mold. I am a busy mom on a small bit of property with not a lot of financial resources, but I am figuring out how to live the life I want. A homesteader's life.

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About Jessica Lane

I am a non-traditional homesteader. What is a non-traditional homesteader? I'd like to think we are the people who don't fit the mold. I am a busy mom on a small bit of property with not a lot of financial resources, but I am figuring out how to live the life I want. A homesteader's life.

Comments

What Kind of Christmas Tree is Greener? — 7 Comments

  1. Another option that we have done is to purchase a young tree from the nursery and plant it after. We just put it up on a small table so we could have some height. Harder to know again what pesticides etc have been used, but instead of cutting down, you’re actually planting a tree. (We moved it outside after the holidays and planted in the spring).

  2. Some of us don’t get a choice in whether to have a live or “fake” tree.
    Since 1964, when I discovered I am allergic to conifers and despite 15 years of allergy treatment, I have had to have a “fake” tree. For many of the years since, I was unable to shop from Thanksgiving until New Years because so many places had live conifer decorations. The two tabletop trees we have used since retirement almost 15 years ago, sometimes look a bit down in the mouth but the trade is worth it. I breath without antihistamines. It takes only minutes to put them up and take them down. It’s fun every few years to change out decorations. I’ve “recycled” the decorations which commemorate special years with our children by putting them into other decorations or by sharing them with people who live alone. The decorations that are being replaced get recycled to thrift stores or show up as part of bows on someone else’s gift.
    Great discussion.

  3. We get our $10 permit from the National Forest Service, drive to the mountains (driving adds the negative here but we’d probably go up to the mountains for a snow day anyway near Christmas). We’re helping the Forest service clear undergrowth they need cleared (as long as we follow their rules) and then after Christmas we set the tree in the yard as a “deadfall” for the birds (sometimes covered orange peel bird feeders). When it starts looking brown and gross, we cut off the small branches for mulching and use the trunk for either a garden post (you always need those) or, like a couple years, made natural “blocks”, sanded and beeswaxed for the children.

    I LOVE our forest trees!!

  4. We were donated a small fake tree by a friend who was transitioning back to real trees, we have a small homestead, less than 2005 sq ft for our total lot. House and all, so small fits best. There are some really creative ornaments that can be made, my favorites are the ones that go outside for the birds. Pine cones smeared with Peanut Butter and then rolled in bird seeds are always pretty and functional.
    For us fake works, and when we can afford it, there is an organic tree farm in our area. Using our donated tree keeps it out of the landfill, and more trees in the ground.

  5. I’m a fake Christmas tree girl but that’s because I’m allergic. I love the smell of them though. I have a big evergreen outside I want to put lights and ornaments on but will have to wear a mask and gloves to do it.

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