Christmas is just around the corner, which means it's now time to find a good tree for the family.
There is no clear cut answer as to which Christmas tree to choose. This choice is based on one's own tastes and desires. Included are a few general tips regarding the maintenance of your tree, what type of lights to use and where to get them, and how and where to dispose of your tree. Also, I wouldn't be a very good environmental columnist if I didn't present to you a reasonable argument supporting real Christmas trees as opposed to those plastic, synthetic trees.
Care and Maintenance
According to the National Christmas Tree Association, Christmas trees are half their weight in water. Extending the life of your tree is all about maintaining its moisture.
When you buy your tree, the seller should make a fresh cut on the tree's trunk. This aids in water uptake. Place your tree in water right away, even if only temporarily storing it in a 5 gallon bucket. Doing so ensures the trunk doesn't 'callus' and stop wicking water.
Once you're ready to set your tree up, make sure your stand fits the tree. Follow this rule of thumb: a good stand has a reservoir that can store one quart of water per inch of stem diameter. Make sure your stand is large enough for the tree. Shaving bark to fit the tree is not recommended, as this removes vascular tissues that are important for water uptake and transportation. Contrary to popular belief, drilling a hole into the bottom of the trunk does not aid in water uptake.
Showcase your Christmas tree in cool environment. It will last longer because less water is lost through evaporation. Make sure you keep your tree away from the heaters, and use small Christmas tree lights. Smaller lights generate less heat, and for this reason, LED lights are recommended (discussed below).
While many like to use those big outdoor Christmas lights on their trees, it's not recommended. They run hot and tend to dry out the tree. This shortens its lifetime in your house, and can possibly start fires.
An excellent alternative are indoor LED Christmas lights. They are much safer since they run cool, and are extremely durable. A single LED can run up to 100,000 hours. Considering that you only run your Christmas lights a few hours a day for a couple weeks, they will practically last indefinitely. Also, LED lights use up to 90 percent less energy than standard incandescent Christmas lights. This translates to a double win for both the environment and your wallet.
Plastic Vs. Real
Falling needles, watering, heavy lifting, and decorating; maybe a Christmas tree isn't for everyone. Those who still want some holiday cheer turn often to plastic trees instead. While these offer ease of use, they negatively impact the environment and sacrifice authenticity.
The American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology says that some people are allergic to terpene, a compound found in Christmas trees; others suffer asthmatic attacks due to other allergens associated with these tress. If your one of these people, it's reasonable to consider buying a plastic tree to cut back on attacks.
However, artificial trees have a negative impact on the environment. Since they are composed of plastic, the manufacturing process consumes petroleum. In addition to this, tankards consume a hefty amount of fuel shipping these trees from the manufacturers in Korea, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. Disposal is difficult since these artificial trees contain toxic heavy metals. They take ages to decompose, and incineration is not an option since burning releases dioxins into the air.
Real Christmas trees have a smaller carbon footprint than plastic ones since production only requires fuel to run equipment for farming and shipping. Overall, Christmas tree farming inputs such as fertilizer and pesticide are minimal and so there is hardly any direct impact on the surrounding environment. In fact, since Christmas trees can be grown on poor soils that are not suitable for food crops, they make use of land that might otherwise be zoned for development. During disposal, Christmas trees are actually recycled into mulches used for landscaping and gardening.
While plastic trees cut back on the grunt work and potential health risks of bringing of tree inside the house, their impact on the environment is a serious consideration. Besides, there is nothing like the sweet smell of pine that accompanies an authentic Christmas tree! Who would want to miss out on that?
Where to pick up your tree?