Every year our household debates what to do about The Christmas Tree. From an organic point of view it’s a tricky one. Buying a real one (which our children love) seems the better option. Artificial trees are generally made from PVC which is far less environmentally friendly given the production processes and eventual disposal. Usually they end up in landfill sites once they begin to look a little tired, or when the glowing tips stop working. On the other hand, artificial trees can be reused for several years. In fact my grandmother has been using the same little silver tree for the last forty years!

So what to do? What are the options?

Have a look at this clip. It makes me smile. It shows forests where the potentially dangerous undergrowth of Balsam Firs are removed, and then sold on as organic Christmas Trees. Given that these new growth firs contribute significantly to the spread of forest fires, it is ecologically sound to remove them. At this point I should point out that we are not advocating everyone to hotfoot to their local woods, and remove whichever tree they like the look of. This guy clearly knows what he’s doing, and the forest is benefitting from it.

There are alternatives to buying either real or artificial Christmas Trees. Beautiful ‘trees’ can be made from bare branches. You can wander off on a nature walk with the children, and collect whatever branches you find on the forest floor. You can also buy these branches from flower shops and nurseries, even some of supermarkets. Some will already be painted in silver or gold, or you can do the painting yourself using eco-friendly paints. How you decorate them is a matter of choice. Ribbons, Christmas decorations, paper snowflakes and fairy lights will make your tree look just as beautiful as a real one, and it really will be completely unique.

If you do decide to go for a real Christmas tree, it’s worth looking for trees that come from a sustainable forest. This means every time a tree is cut down, another will be replanted in its place. Our local DIY store sells these sorts of trees.

Scandinavian trees are much more likely to come from sustainable forests. Scandinavian foresters have been working towards sustainable forestry for more than a century. About 100 years ago Finland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark introduced forestry legislation that limited the amount of timber that could be harvested, and imposed an obligation on woodlot owners to carry out regeneration after felling1. Scandinavian trees are therefore a good choice.

Organic living is in certain respects a little trickier to achieve at Christmas time, but it can be done. You don’t have to give up or forsake any of the lovely Christmas traditions, just think carefully about what you’re doing or using or purchasing and you’ll find the organic or eco-friendly alternative you need.

  1. http://www.borealforest.org/world/scan_mgmt.htm []

Filed under: Organic Lifestyle

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