| Environmental Columns

How to choose and reuse your Christmas tree

Natural or artificial?

The holiday season is almost here—do you have a Christmas tree yet? Are you hesitating between an artificial tree and a real one? Wondering how a plastic tree can be environmentally friendly, or if cutting down trees to celebrate Christmas is really the way to go? Not sure what the greenest option is? Don’t worry! We’ll clear that up for you right here.

Artificial trees have three times the carbon footprint of real trees due to climate change and natural resource depletion. However, that’s only true if you keep your artificial tree for six years or less. If you plan on using your tree for more than 20 years or if you’ll have to drive a long way to get a real tree, then an artificial tree is the best option.

An eco-friendly choice

To reduce your tree’s carbon footprint as much as possible, we recommend following a few guidelines. For example, buy local if you opt for a real tree to minimize transport-related GHG emissions. Christmas tree farms that use little or no pesticides and herbicides are preferable. If you go artificial, avoid PVC trees—PVC is the most harmful plastic for the environment. Obviously, the longer you keep an artificial tree, the smaller its environmental impact will be. Not to mention that these trees can be recycled when you’re done with them! Since they can be used for many years, artificial trees are a better choice than cultivated trees.

Natural trees

Natural trees can be cultivated or wild, which affects their carbon footprint. Growing and transplanting seedlings takes a lot of energy. What’s more, the land has to be cleared first—heavy machinery is used to work the natural forest floor. Chemical fertilizers and herbicides are used to control vegetation. These forests are artificially grown and use energy at every stage of their development. Where a tree is grown has a big influence on its carbon footprint. A wild tree has the advantage of being handpicked by you and being fuller than other trees. Once you have a provincial permit, you can choose and cut your own tree on land that should be free of trees. You still have to find a place to get your tree, though, because forestry operators are granted logging rights on public land. The best option if you want a natural tree would be to grow it at home. If you wish to dispose of your tree, please note that Christmas tree pick-up will be on Wednesday, January 11, 2023, between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. You can also bring it directly to the ecocentre at any time.

For all you creative and thrifty types, the DIY Christmas tree is a great option! The possibilities are endless when creating your own Christmas tree. You can use recycled wood, wood pallets, cardboard or even twine. You can put some lights on a wall in the shape of a tree. No matter how you create your minimalist tree, the environmental impact will be smaller than an artificial tree and maybe even a natural tree. It’s also a good way for you to make use of things that would have ended up in the recycling bin.