Cutting down trees during Christmas and it’s impact

An average 2 metre Christmas tree produces a carbon footprint of around 16 kgs of carbon di oxide , whilst a plastic one of the same height has a carbon footprint measuring at around 40kg of CO2. This means a total of 120 million trees that are cut every Christmas result in over 2-3 billion Kgs of Carbon Footprint. As per latest records, Great Britain consumes about 8 million trees annually, while in the United States between 35 and 40 million trees are sold during the Christmas season. An enormous influx of plastic christmas trees import from China is also seen during this time. Other European countries consume around 50 million trees while Australia consumes 5-6 million. Latin America, Canada, Russia and other Asian countries add up to another 40 million. Like any commodity, Christmas trees rack up an environmental toll—and not just because they utilize heavy use of resources and energy for their growing and transportation. Fertilizer and pesticide use are the main culprits in this case .Christmas tree farmers use integrated pest management (IPM), which combines pest identification and monitoring with pesticide use. Growers identify pests and natural predators in the field and use pesticides only when needed to maintain balance between the two. They also increasingly select pest-resistant trees; once-exotic European species like Nordmann and Turkish firs are hence becoming more popular because they hold up against certain fungi and bugs.

For real trees, there is always a question of where they comes from and how they were grown. Sourcing trees locally helps cut down on transportation costs and emissions and supports local jobs. Habitat also poses as another issue, since trees grown on moors, heaths, and peat bogs are hugely damaging with massive losses of peat-carbon and biodiversity, and increased downstream flooding. It’s better to instead choose trees grown on arable fields or grasslands of little ecological interest .But the reality is that the impacts of both plastic as well as real trees depends on how far one travels to get their tree, whether they recycle it or throw it in the trash, and, if it’s artificial, how long one reuses it for. It’s absolutely possible to keep a fake tree in the family long enough that it becomes more environmentally friendly than a natural one, in terms of resources used and greenhouse gasses emitted. But that assumes a sturdy product one commits to using year after year. And a natural tree has far greater potential to give back once it’s done providing with Christmas cheer: Trees that are mulched literally turn into soil, helping grow new plants and sequester more carbon. In contrast, the only place artificial ones end up going in is in the waste

“Buy local, stay local.”

To get the greenest tree possible, getting to know your local tree farmer helps a lot. The best thing is to go to a local farm and to really invest one’s time and energy in seeking knowledge about how the tree is resourced . If you still prefer an artificial tree, get ready to make a long-term Christmas commitment. If you extend the life of your fake tree to 20 years you can reduce your environmental impact. In fact it has also been suggested that if you have to travel more than 10 miles to get your tree you might be better off with an artificial one you can purchase closer to home.

Adwitya Sinha
Author: Adwitya Sinha

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