O Christmas Tree, How Eco-Friendly Are You?

Dec. 29, 2006

Chicago /PRNewswire/ - Real tree vs. fake tree: You've likely considered all the obvious factors like cost and aesthetics, but did you think about the impact your tree has on the environment? The choice is clear: buy a real tree and recycle it. Then you can feel good about making a contribution to the environment during the holiday season.

"One might think that fake trees are the better choice, but the opposite is true, since Christmas tree farms provide substantial benefits to the environment," says Jenna Rose, managing editor of AFreshSqueeze.com, an e-newsletter for living "green" in Chicagoland. "While it may seem environmentally insensitive to chop down a tree and decorate it, real trees are actually more eco-friendly."

Artificial trees are usually made of PVC, a plastic that is difficult to recycle and contains hazardous chemicals. Last year, more than nine million plastic Christmas trees were imported from China. So despite being reusable, the production and transportation of fake trees is still energy-intensive.

According to the National Christmas Tree Association (NCTA), one acre of trees produces the daily oxygen requirement for 18 people. With more than 500,000 acres of Christmas trees in the United States, that translates into nine million people a day supplied with oxygen from these trees.

"Trees have a metabolism like people," says Dawn Peterson, co-owner of Oney's Christmas Tree Farm in Woodstock, IL. "The younger ones are more efficient. So by cutting down and selling the older trees and continuously planting, the younger trees do a better job at producing oxygen and detoxifying the air."

For every tree harvested, Oney's, a cut-your-own tree farm, plants seven to 10 in its place. Peterson says for the 3,000 trees they sell each year, they plant 20,000 to 30,000 seedlings.

Because of the Christmas trees' durability, they are grown in soil that would not support other crops. "Out here in McHenry County we are on hilly, glacial moraine, which is not good for growing any other types of crop, but is good growing farmland for Christmas trees," explains Peterson. "It helps keep our area agriculturally based. We really are land stewards, using the land most effectively."

A truly renewable resource, real trees are also recyclable. "Just be sure not to toss your real tree out with the trash," says Rose. Rose's AFreshSqeeze.com newsletter recommends the Web site http://www.earth911.org to find out where to recycle trees locally, based on zip codes. Many communities have a pick-up service for doing the same. Each January, the city of Chicago collects trees at Park District parks and turns them into mulch for use in gardens and trails.

And when it comes to the presents that go under that real tree, don't forget to keep it a "green" Christmas by using gift wrap made of recycled paper and to reuse wrapping paper and gift bags.

Do you have a "green" holiday story or tip to share? Tell your story at www.afreshsqueeze.com and read more about green holiday celebrations.

AFreshSqueeze.com is a free e-newsletter with tips for living green in Chicago. Visit them online and sign up for a free subscription to receive useful information on "green" foods, restaurants, home and garden products, day trips, and healthy and sustainable living—all with a focus on the Chicagoland area.

Source: A Fresh Squeeze (www.afreshsqueeze.com)

For more information, contact Lisa Coe of Vista Communications: (847) 526-2045, [email protected] , or Jenna Rose of A Fresh Squeeze: (312) 243-4100 ext. 115, [email protected]

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