Smell Like Dirt

In Spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” Margaret Atwood

The Tree Controversy

A Real TreeI’ve decided to wade into the controversy of real vs fake trees.  Being a diehard “real” tree consumer, I was a little afraid of what I was going to discover when I started my research on which kind of Christmas tree is more eco-friendly.   Was I ready to give up the tradition of a real tree if I found out that a fake (or “life-like” as one friend calls his plastic tree) tree was better for the environment?  Well, the answer is…..it depends on who you ask.  Like a lot of issues regarding the environment, there seems to be differing opinions.  One camp says that cutting down a tree to stick in your house for a couple of weeks is crazy.  Why, that tree was producing oxygen!  Why would anyone cut down a perfectly healthy tree?  Of course, the tree would not have been planted at all if it weren’t for customer demand.  Another group says that fake trees are plastic, which is a petroleum based product so you are supporting the big oil companies by buying a petroleum based product.  And then there’s all the other chemicals that are in the tree and used in the process of making the tree.  Then there’s the “China Syndrome”….most of the fake trees are made in China so who knows what’s really in them!  Back to real trees.  Not only are you cutting down an oxygen producer, but you also have the transportation costs of getting it to you.  But, fake trees ride around in trucks too, but overall the carbon footprint of a fake tree is bigger than the footprint of a real tree.  Then there’s disposal.  Fake trees can be used many years before they are disposed of, which is a good argument for the “reduce, reuse, recycle” mantra.  BUT, when they do end up in the landfill, it will take thousands of years to break down (if ever).  My real tree, on the other hand, will end up on the brushpile in my backyard to provide cover for wildlife and food for bugs until it turns into compost and replenishes the soil.    But next year, I will have to buy another tree.  So the answer is, I have NO idea which is better.   Another option is buying a live potted tree, enjoying it indoors until after the holidays and then planting it outside.  Which sounds GREAT in theory, but the trees won’t live everywhere in the country, and with the drought in the Southeast right now, planting anything is not a good idea because you will need to keep it watered to give it a fighting chance of survival.So, this controversy is not going to be solved here at Smell Like Dirt.  I would be interested in hearing how you feel about it and what you will be decorating in your home this year……Real or Fake?  

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2 Comments»

  Hugh Franklyn wrote @

For too long the environmental movement has been driven by quilt. Guilt is passive. Guilt is inhibiting. Guilt is corrosive.
Great movements are built around passion.
The fact that this sentiment was expressed by no less an environmentalist than Arnold Swarzenegger doesn’t make it less profound.
I’m a live tree guy. I assume my tree provided a fair trade living for the Maine/ North Carolina/ or Canadian tree farmer who raised it; the Lowes employee’s who set it up and sold it. Since I live in Mecklenburg County, my tree will be mulched and provide comfort for moisture parched plantings next spring.
Don’t waste your time arguing with me on this. I’m a live tree guy and will not be made to feel like a bad person.

  smelllikedirt wrote @

Amen, Hugh! I’m with you on this one. In my living room stands a glorious Frasier Fir, smelling just like the mountains of Carolina. And like yours, it will return to the Carolina soil right after the holidays.


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