By Nadia Warren
With Christmas nearly upon us, people around the world are buying fir, spruce and pine trees to decorate. 78% of Americans buy a real tree, and the average amount spent on Christmas trees in the United States alone is $1.32 billion each year.
The problem of waste during Christmas is something that is very clear but isn’t usually talked about. People would rather buy a real tree because they smell lovely and create the authentic Christmas atmosphere we all know and love, but people rarely consider the ethical and environmental impacts of the tree disposal.
There is one thing we all know for certain: trees are good for the planet. Trees absorb carbon dioxide and harmful gases that are in the air and release the oxygen we need to breathe. According to the US National Christmas Tree Association (NCTA), 27.4 million real trees were sold in 2016, while only 18.6 million fake trees were sold. “The sales figures from the NCTA show that throughout the years, Americans have preferred to put their presents under a real Christmas tree”.
Christmas trees grown in forests are home to an abundance of wildlife, and provide shelter for birds, insects and mammals, and cutting down millions of trees that provide safety for these animals can cause endangerment.
Once Christmas is over and the trees have lost their appeal, most people do not properly dispose of their trees. The trees tend to get thrown out or burned up after they’ve served their purpose, but those aren’t the most environmentally friendly ways to dispose of them. Christmas trees should be recycled into mulch or chipped to use for pathways. The trees can also be donated to farms or sold for landscaping. Any form of reuse is beneficial, as giving back to the environment could be a part of the Christmas spirit.