Tip of the Week: Christmas Trees

Our Environmental Tip of the Week is courtesy of Hari B. Bindal, PE, of the U.S. Coast Guard.

The Issue: Every year, millions of green Christmas trees are cut, transported, sold and thrown at street corner after Christmas. The current practice adds costs to the consumer's pocket, destroys greenery and ends into tree disposal problem.

Solution: Buy or grow a Christmas tree in a pot, bring the potted tree inside home, decorate and celebrate Christmas. After the Christmas season is over, remove the decoration, transfer the potted tree out to landscaping, or keep indoors, as the situation permits, to reuse the tree year after year. Year round, or before you bring the tree in, trim the tree to your needs.

Benefits:

  1. To the consumer: it will save cost and hassle of buying, carrying and installing a green Christmas tree each year. You do not have to dispose the tree; just transfer outside the house to add to the landscape or keep it in as an indoor house plant. You will have affection for your Christmas tree year round.
  2. To the environment: millions of trees (greenery) saved, no used trees on the street curb, and cost of disposal of trees saved or eliminated.

Drawbacks:

  1. Business of growing and selling Christmas tree is hurt.
  2. The potted tree would be heavier than a green cut tree to carry in and out of the house.

Net: Cost savings and protection of environment are worth the hassle.

Editor's note:

Approximately 33 million live Christmas trees are sold in North America every year, according to EPA. If you already bought a tree, look for ways to recycle it instead of sending it to a landfill. Check with your community solid waste department and find out if they collect and mulch trees. Your town might be able to use chippings from mulched trees for hiking trails and beachfront erosion barriers. Communities and consumers can find ideas to ensure used Christmas trees don't spoil the environment at http://www.epa.gov/epaoswer/osw/conserve/2003news/12-trees.htm.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has tips for reducing fire and other hazards related to holiday decorating (including Christmas trees) at http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml07/07046.html.

This article originally appeared in the 12/01/2006 issue of Environmental Protection.

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