Did you get a real Christmas tree this year? Great! Real trees are the best - eco-friendly speaking. Why?
First let's look at the fake trees. The fake trees are primarily made of polyvinyl chloride. Polyvinyl chloride is a plastic that releases harmful dioxins into the air. Stuff you really don't want to be breathing! Not to mention the chemicals put on the fake trees to make them fire-proof. Going back to the start, the production of fake trees is an eco-nightmare! The manufacturing plants really have no way of creating an eco-friendly environment when they are producing a very non-eco product. Then they have to ship these fake trees all over the country. Most real trees are not shipped great distances in an effort to provide the freshest trees possible. Finally, when you are done with your fake tree it will sit in the landfill for hundreds if not thousands of years.
But if I buy a real tree, aren't I contributing to deforestation? NO! These trees are grown on farms specifically for the purpose of being cut down and used as Christmas trees. The farms plant new trees to replace the old. In most cases, these farms are growing their trees naturally - without a bunch of fertilizers. Not to mention that buying a farmed tree or going to cut your own down is supporting a local grower!
What if I buy a real tree that has its roots? I can plant it and be extra good by planting a tree - right? NO! In the winter, these trees go dormant. When you have a real tree that has its roots and then bring it into the house, the warmth from the house can "confuse" the tree into thinking it's time to start growing again. Then, when you go to plant it outside, the cold will most likely shock and kill the tree. Only a very small percentage of replants trees survive.
So I have a real tree, without roots. My house smells great! I have to make sure I water my tree and clean up my pine needles but that's just all part of the Christmas fun! When the holiday time is over and the presents are all unwrapped, decorations put away and it's time to move into the New Year, I should toss my tree out and let the town come pick it up - right? MAYBE. It depends on the town. Most towns have an annual tree collection day and they collect the tree and mulch them - great! Or you can put them out with the rest of the trash and they will be collected and sorted at the dump/transfer station. But other towns may not have the setup to mulch and they will just dump them into the landfill with everything else. Is that a bad thing? YES and NO. Yes because the tree is now completely at end-of-life. It will decompose in the landfill in a short period of time - much shorter than the fake tree; but then again, no because the most eco-friendly way to use anything is to get the most out of it before end-of-life. In an effort to get all the benefits you can out of your real tree the best way to discard is to have it picked up and made into mulch.
Just call your local transfer station or dump and ask if they recycle the Christmas trees. Mulching is recycling! But my town doesn't mulch. Now what? Check around, most likely there is a place close by that will recycle.
According to the Salem NH transfer station, Christmas trees that are either picked up or dropped off at the station go into the brush pile and are eventually turned into mulch. All it took was a 10 second call for me to get this information. Just remember to take all the decorations and lights off your tree before sending it to the curb!
Have a very Merry Christmas and an Eco-Friendly Happy New Year!