Turn Your Holiday Real Green: Sustainable Tree Options

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by Yoli Ouiya on December 12, 2013

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Oh fun times are ahead as we move into winter and the Holiday season. But it also seems to be the most wasteful time of year with tons of packaging from toys, non-ecofriendly decorations, and even food waste. Here are some tips to turn your Holiday green and sustainable.

Reasons to Opt Out of an Artificial Tree

faketree The primary issue with artificial trees are full of toxic chemicals and the last thing you want is that in your home. Those warning labels on the box exist for a reason. Artificial trees are often made from PVC, which has dioxin (linked to reproductive disorders and breast cancer). PVC and hot lights equal a toxic combination (think slowly burning plastic or at least hard to see vapors). Artifical Christmas Trees were recently added to the Center for Health, Environment & Justice’s list of household products containing PVC.

Why Buy a Real Tree?

realtree So in comes the real pine trees. “But Yoli, isn’t that still harmful on the environment from the trees being cut down?” Typically, trees grown for the holiday are naturally a pesticide-free crop. Trees you see around the Holiday are specifically planted to be harvested. Each tree chopped down is replanted by 2 or 3 more so the grower will have more trees to harvest the next season.

The other side of the conversation is if most live trees will end up in a landfill after they are thrown away. Trees can be recycled! You can drop off a tree at your local recycling center and most cities have free drop-off locations. There are some mulching programs available like Home Depot and you’d have to check with your local public works department to see if the program exists in your town.

Jennae from Green Your Decor also shares a great perspective on artificial vs real trees and her personal preference.

Buy a Tree to Replant

pottedtree Next level green would be to purchase a tree that can be planted after the holidays are over. Big stores like Home Depot and Whole Foods have potted trees available to order in store. Check your local flower districts as well as they usually have potted trees available year round.

Rent a Tree

deliverytree Another alternative exists; rent a tree! Companies like Original Living Christmas Tree Co. (Portland, Oregon) and Living Christmas (they operate in Northern and Southern California) and exist and are growing. “Our Trees are Alive, in a Pot with their Roots, and Growing. We deliver the tree to you, and then pick it up after the holidays. The tree then goes back to our nursery, where it continues growing until next year. Some trees are replanted into bigger containers. Not every tree is suitable for rental year after year.” Ideally this kind of business will continue to grow and develop in other areas.
Image: Michal Czerwonka for The New York Times

A Recycled Cardboard Tree

We have one more option: Cardboard Christmas Tree! These are usually made from post consumer waster and it can be easily recycled.
cardboardtree For example, this Massimo tree is made of 100% recycled cardboardand and stands 6 1/2 feet tall, so it is about the same height as a traditional tree. This particular models also comes with a set of multi-colored or red LED lights. For $40, this tree could be used over and over and when you are ready to get a new one, easy to recycle.

Stay tuned for our guide to green decorations and more.

What tree option will you opt for this holiday season?

Header Image by Enigmatic-Ki

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This post was written by...

– who has written 334 posts on Yoli's Green Living.

Yoli Ouiya is a Green & Healthy Living Expert, Green Chef, Publisher and Editor in Chief of YolisGreenLiving.com. She is noted as the “Queen of Green” by Black Enterprise Magazine, and currently operates a boutique eco-lifestyle outfit Yoli’s Green Living Group. Black Enterprise included Yoli in its “Top 20 National Bloggers” of 2012, was named ‘Best in Green Living” by AllParenting.com, and listed as “Top 17 Black Woman Bloggers to Watch in 2013″ bu ForHarriet.com. With a certification in Plant Based Nutrition from Cornell, she offers workshops, lectures, and organizes a variety of eco-chic green themed events in New York. She is currently on the board of directors for The New York Coalition for Healthy School Food, a health and nutrition specialist for Harlem Children’s Zone, and co-authoring a book slated for completion Spring 2014.

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