Many believe that plastic Christmas trees are better for the environment because they can be used year after year but for Christmas tree farmers, the environmentally-friendly choice is clear. Executive Director of Christmas Tree Farmers of Ontario, Shirley Brennan is a firm believer that real Christmas trees give to the environment from sapling to post-Christmas take down. “We are farmers. W e grow our crops. We do not add to deforestation. When we harvest our crop, we plant 2 to 3 saplings. The best thing about real Christmas trees is, not only do they take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere but they also add oxygen. The Nation Christmas Tree Association in The United States had scientists measure how much oxygen was produced by an acre of Christmas trees and it was equivalent to the amount that 18 people would breathe in a year.”
Factory-made plastic Christmas trees add to pollution and plastic waste whereas Brennen says real Christmas trees are “100 per cent biodegradable.” Brennen believes that growing Christmas trees is great for wildlife. “When the trees are being grown, they offer shelter and protection to small animals. After they are done being loved at Christmas, you can leave the tree in your backyard for small animals to have shelter in the winter, or you can donate it to a Christmas tree pick-up where one of the options is to stack the Christmas trees together and put them in a forest to decompose. It is the best shelter and protection for birds and small animals.”
Christmas tree pick-ups are becoming increasingly popular, and are even offered in London, Ontario. Brennen says that there are many different ways Christmas trees are used when being picked up to recycle. Brennan notes that many Christmas trees end up on beaches. “Christmas trees are like sponges. They are extremely effective as erosion barriers and they are put on beaches to help slow down things. We’ve found that Christmas trees are much more effective than anything we could come up with that is man-made.”
Another popular recycling option for Christmas trees has been mulching. Brennan recalls that many municipalities have different ways of doing things. “Some places you will have the municipality pick up the trees and turn it into mulch and use it in their own beautiful gardens, or they will have it for free for citizens to pick up. In other places, we see charities pick up the Christmas trees and sell the mulch, it’s just a full-circle experience.”
Brennan adds that other recycling options for Christmas tree pick-ups is to submerge the Christmas tree into water for smaller fish to find shelter, and for wildlife to eat. As well, local artisans can request the tree trunks for wood work. “The recycling options are endless,” says Brennan.
Brennan adds “I just want every family to go to a Christmas tree farm and pick out a tree. It’s about the memories. Your kids won’t have as much fun taking a box out of the attic as they will meeting a farmer and picking out their very own tree. It’s about family togetherness and enjoying the holidays.”