By Liv of Live By Surprise
I have a confession.
I am an accessory to a brutal axe murder. On more than one occasion. And I’ve involved my whole family—including the children and the dog—in my transgressions. That’s right. Just yesterday, the family and I went out into a wooded area with a large saw and a tarp. And we butchered an innocent living being that had never done us any harm.
My family’s Christmas traditions have usually included a healthy dose of plastic. Up until my husband entered the picture, I’d never had a real tree. And truly, I was OK with that. In addition to the fact that I’m allergic to just about every tree on the planet, I have a healthy respect for nature and felt like killing a real tree to watch it slowly die was against my nature.
I’m not perfect, I’ll admit. I do recycle and compost, but I’m not as strict about it as I could be and probably send a little more waste to the landfill than I need to (another sin).
But I try.
And now, every year, in addition to the burden of buying gifts and decorating the house, I have had to bear my own wooden cross—this year in the form of a beautiful 8-foot white pine. An 8-foot white pine that I will watch slowly die over the next couple of weeks, giving it only enough water to keep it perky.
And to add insult to injury, I dress it in garish red, green and gold ornaments that would put one of those embarrassing holiday jumpers to shame.
A tree that selflessly gave of itself to absorb over one ton of toxic carbon monoxide to create life-giving oxygen.
I’ll admit it. I loved my plastic tree. The last one I had came up from the basement in three pieces and took about five minutes to put together before decorating. And it was pre-lit—removing the necessity of untangling wires (or buying new ones when I broke the old ones in frustration). And it never shed needles all over my floor, necessitating extra vacuuming.
Every year we’ve picked up a “real” tree, I’ve felt guilty. But this year, I decided to do something about it. I did some research. As a result, I’ve discovered some things that have eased my guilt.
Apparently when you consider the entire life cycle of plastic vs. real trees, the artificial ones actually have a greater negative environmental impact.
Artificial trees are manufactured with metal and polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a non-biodegradable, petroleum-derived plastic. And some of the older ones even contain lead. Even with potentially recyclable PVC components, artificial trees are not recyclable or biodegradable, meaning they will sit in a landfill for centuries after disposal. And to make it even worse, a healthy number of artificial trees sold in the U.S. are imported from, China which adds to their overall environmental footprint.
But according to the National Christmas Tree Association, my beautiful 8-foot white pine is completely recyclable. When I drop it at the curb for pickup, it will be re-used or recycled. Some communities (including my own) use Christmas trees to make sand and soil erosion barriers. They can be used to rebuild lake and river shoreline. They can be used as fish or bird feeders or ground into mulch and used in gardens or on hiking trails.
So this year, I’m putting down the cross and enjoying the season. I’m going to try to feel good about the fact that the tree in my living room will not be around when my great-great grandchildren are walking the planet.
It is gorgeous.
Now if I could just do something about the ornaments…
This post was originally published on Live By Surprise.
Liv is the pseudonym reformed divorcee and single mom – now married, coparenting and working mother of three. She’s been featured on ScaryMommy, HuffPost Divorce, Your Tango, Club Mid and DivorcedMoms.com. More at Live By Surprise.