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Blogs for Humans is written to help more students learn about, and discuss, important environmental issues and topics. By sharing my research and my thoughts, I hope to foster an environment of learning. 

I invite your comments, thoughts, and feedback which I hope will encourage more middle school and high school students to become actively involved in this important issue impacting our future. 

  • Jackson Selby

When Reusable May Not Be Better for the Environment




‘Tis the holiday season, and you’re reusing the same ornaments you used last year. Great! But the real question is: What are you putting them on?


Your choice of tree can have far more of an environmental impact than you might think.


So, which is better? Are real or fake Christmas trees better for the environment?


Before I actually did research on this topic, I figured that an artificial tree was probably more sustainable and eco-friendly, as you can reuse it year after year as opposed to chopping down a new tree every Christmas. Most people keep an artificial tree for around six years, according to multiple surveys.


But my guess was a little…off.


It turns out that most artificial trees are made of PVC (Polyvinyl chloride plastic), which is not only produced at pollution-emitting chemical plants, but also can cause some health problems and raise ecological concerns.


Another thing that I didn’t consider is the fact that most artificial trees originate from across the Pacific in areas such as China, where they are then shipped across the ocean in large boats powered by fossil fuels. These vessels emit a lot of C02 during their voyage.


On the other hand, the average time it takes a Christmas tree to reach a height of six or seven feet is seven years, according to the National Christmas Tree Foundation. This growing time allows them to absorb plenty of C02 before being repurposed for Father Christmas. When cut down, some CO2 is released, yet for each Christmas tree that is cut down, farmers replant 1-3 seeds the following year.


Real Christmas trees are also very easy to dispose of, as they can be converted into mulch, recycled, or simply returned to the ecosystem.


Artificial Christmas trees are not biodegradable. Most of them end up in landfills or in the incinerator, the latter of which can release toxic chemicals.


CALL TO ACTION

Now that you’ve learned the facts, it’s time to make your own decision: Real or Artificial?

Take into consideration

· your household budget; · allergies to plants or trees; · fire hazards, storage and disposal; · space and location of your tree; · cleaning up; · availability of a real or artificial tree; · your family preference; and · maintenance.


In the end, whether you decide on a real or artificial Christmas tree, the important thing is to pick what is best for your household.


Let me know what you decide in the comments section below and have a jolly Christmas!

 

For more info on the relationship between PVC and health issues, click here: https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/substances/vinyl-chloride#:~:text=Which%20cancers%20are%20associated%20with,cancers%2C%20lymphoma%2C%20and%20leukemia.


For some ideas on how to recycle and dispose of an artificial Christmas tree, click here: https://www.charlestoncrafted.com/how-to-dispose-of-an-artificial-christmas-tree/


For more info on Christmas Trees, click here: https://realchristmastrees.org/education/quick-tree-facts/


For information on disposing of a real Christmas tree, click here: https://arbordayblog.org/holiday/8-sustainable-ways-to-recycle-your-christmas-tree/



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