Thursday, November 26, 2015

Getting a greener tree

If you celebrate Christmas and you haven't bought your tree yet, perhaps there's still time for the Nature Conservancy to get in its plug about how natural trees are greener.

Getting a greener tree


If you celebrate Christmas and you haven't bought your tree yet, perhaps there's still time for the Nature Conservancy to get in its plug about how natural trees are greener.

Yes, competing groups each have their own spiel. Fake tree producers point out, for one thing, that their trees can last year after year after year, assuming your cats or kids don't get after them. So, yeah, that's good. 

I have not yet seen a peer-reviewed scientific study that sorts out the complete life-cycle analysis.

But here's what the Conservancy, which does not sell either kind of Christmas tree, but which has a stake in preserving lands and habitats, has to say:

Fake trees are usually made from a kind of plastic called polyvinyl chloride (PVC) which is derived from petroleum, and is manufactured using processed that have been criticized for air and water pollution as well as energy use.

Approximately 85% of the fake trees sold in the US are shipped here from China. Most of China’s electricity comes from burning coal—the dirtiest source of electricity. Once the fake trees are made, they still have to be shipped across the ocean—usually in a diesel-fuel powered ship.

And real trees grow in the ground for several years before they are cut, absorbing greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere every year. The vast majority of real trees today come from Christmas tree farms—about 12,000 of which exist in the United States.

On these farms each tree cut is typically replaced by a new tree or two or three, which continue removing carbon from the air. In a given holiday season, about 30 million trees are cut nationwide, while hundreds of millions of farmed trees continue to grow.

A study released last year by an independent sustainable development organization found that natural Christmas trees have a smaller carbon footprint, over their life cycle, than their artificial counterparts.
“Healthy forests are one of the best strategies we have to combat climate change, and well-managed tree farms can be an important part of this effort,” said Dylan Jenkins, Director of Forest Conservation for The Nature Conservancy’s Pennsylvania Chapter.

Natural, locally sourced trees also help protect the family tree farms that keep Pennsylvania’s forests economically viable. Pennsylvania’s newest forest conservation program, Working Woodlands (, works with small forest landowners, including tree farmers, to help keep the Commonwealth’s forests healthy, so that they can support our environment and our economy, Jenkins said.

What can you do?
• Choose a natural tree and buy local. The National Christmas Tree Association ( offers a zip-code searchable listing to help you find a nearby farm.
• Try to find an organic Christmas tree: Freymoyer Christmas Tree Farm in Harris, Laurel Valley Tree Farm in New Florence and Ruff’s Christmas Trees in Schuylkill Haven are among the local businesses that offer pesticide-free trees.
• Recycle your Christmas tree: Use its boughs to bank your home’s foundation, offering additional insulation or contact one of the many local businesses and municipalities that collect trees to produce mulch or burn them to produce energy.

Or.....maybe just buy a big poinsettia and put it on the piano. Which is a whole nother story.

We encourage respectful comments but reserve the right to delete anything that doesn't contribute to an engaging dialogue.
Help us moderate this thread by flagging comments that violate our guidelines.

Comment policy: comments are intended to be civil, friendly conversations. Please treat other participants with respect and in a way that you would want to be treated. You are responsible for what you say. And please, stay on topic. If you see an objectionable post, please report it to us using the "Report Abuse" option.

Please note that comments are monitored by staff. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable. Personal attacks, especially on other participants, are not permitted. We reserve the right to permanently block any user who violates these terms and conditions.

Additionally comments that are long, have multiple paragraph breaks, include code, or include hyperlinks may not be posted.

Read 0 comments
comments powered by Disqus
About this blog
Our panel of experts, in partnership with My MilkCrate, will offer information on how to live sustainably and reduce your carbon footprint. We'll be featuring sustainable businesses, steering you toward green local events, and catching up with Philadelphians who we consider green-living gurus.

My MilkCrate is an innovative lifestyle tool -- available for free for iOS and Android -- which connects consumers to hundreds of local sustainable options in dining, shopping, transit, and more. The tool also allows you to seamlessly take sustainable action inside the app, discover nearby community events and eventually track your spending in the local economy. Follow them on social media @MYMILKCRATEAPP.

Nancy Berman Author of Thrift Shop Maniac's Guide to the Delaware Valley & The Universe
Julie Hancher Editor-in-chief and co-founder, Green Philly Blog
Caitlin Honan Communications Director, My MilkCrate
Alex Jones Value Chain Coordinator at Fair Food Philly
Charlotte Lee My MilkCrate
Tracey Romero Staff Writer,
Latest Health Videos
Also on
letter icon Newsletter