Oh Tannenbaum, How Green Are Your Branches?

December 2nd, 2011


Tomorrow is my favorite day of the year. It's the day my kids and I cut down our Christmas tree and decorate the house for the holidays. We'll drink eggnog, listen to Bing croon White Christmas, and fondly recall the origin of each ornament that actually makes it on to the tree (we can't seem to get through a Christmas with less than five broken ones.) I imagine many of you will be dong the same thing this weekend. And perhaps, like me, you have wondered about the sustainability of your holiday traditions. 

I'm often told by others that an artificial tree is better than a cut one because it is used for years and years. A good argument. But not true. After much research I have concluded once and for all that a cut tree is still better than an artificial tree. Of course, no tree at all, or a live tree which can be replanted post-holidays, is the best option. But I am clinging to this tradition held over from my childhood, so a cut tree it is.  

As for those of you with artificial trees, using it for many years is a definite plus as they will otherwise end up in a landfill. If you're in the market for a faux fir, consider vintage. Check thrift stores, Craigslist, or even antique stores. I myself would love one of the aluminum trees my parents had in the 60's.


So why is a going to a local farm and cutting down a tree an okay choice?

1) Unlike the Lorax's nemesis, Christmas tree farms replant yearly, and no forest is harmed in the making of a Christmas tree.

2) Post-holiday, the City of Madison collects old trees from the curb and turns them into mulch that is given away for free at area parks in the spring (a good reason not to use tinsel or flocking on your tree – it makes them unable to be recycled.)

3) They smell good. 

4) It supports a local farmer.

5) It keeps harmful chemicals out of the environment (most artificial trees are made with polyvinyl chloride – PVC – which disperses harmful dioxins into the air)


Whatever tree choice is right for your family, wrapping the gifts you place underneath in recycled paper, fabric or other eco-friendly gift wrap alternatives. And if you really want to make a statement – buy organic eggnog!


Happy decorating!