Sustainability | Ecotrope

10 shades of green Christmas trees

Ecotrope | Dec. 13, 2011 5:21 a.m. | Updated: Feb. 19, 2013 1:33 p.m.

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There are so many shades of eco-friendly Christmas trees. How green is yours?

There are so many shades of eco-friendly Christmas trees. How green is yours?

I’ve immersed myself in discussions about green Christmas trees over the past few days, and I’m amazed by the wide array of options. There’s no official green meter to gauge which one is the greenest. But here’s a quick list of the various shades of green, along with some of the environmental benefits and potential drawbacks:

  1. A fake tree rescued from a dumpster or purchased from a thrift store (much of the environmental damage is done, but you can still keep it out of the landfill). One study found a new fake tree would have to be used for 20 years to match the environmental impacts of natural trees.
  2. A living tree that you replant after the holiday (avoids killing a tree … as long as it survives the shift from indoors to outdoors).
  3. Any potted tree that would already be indoors for the winter; maybe something aromatic like rosemary (You can keep it year-round and even use its branches in holiday dishes).
  4. In Oregon and California, you can rent a live tree (That way trained professionals will make sure the tree lives after Christmas).
  5. In Portland, you can have a tree delivered by bike (removing the carbon footprint of driving to get a tree).
  6. Cut your own wild tree from a national forest with a $5 permit (I just gone mine from Mt. Hood, so I burned some gas in the process).
  7. Cut a nearby invasive species (Be careful how you dispose of it so you don’t spread seeds).
  8. A fresh-cut tree from a nearby farm (keeps a constant rotation of trees that absorb carbon dioxide, and you can recycle it to keep it out of the landfill).
  9. A certified eco-friendly fresh-cut tree (So you know what the farmer is doing to minimize erosion, chemical inputs and other impacts).
  10. An organic fresh-cut tree (pesticide and herbicide free, but still a rare commodity).

So … how green is your Christmas tree?

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