It’s the time for gift-giving, tree-trimming and holiday light bling. It’s also a time when many may be closely monitoring their impact on the environment. (Major international climate agreement, anyone?)
If you’re a member of that group, you might want to give more consideration to what kind of tree you’re trimming this year: real or fake.
Growers of real trees maintain that there’s no debate and that we should never choose a plastic tree that’s going to end up in a landfill. But manufacturers of fake trees say their product has essentially the same carbon footprint of the real fir and pine trees you’ll find on sale.
The answer from Nature Conservancy Executive Director Bill Ulfelder might not surprise you.
“Real. Every time,” Ulfelder told MetroFocus Host Rafael Pi Roman.
Ulfelder says the carbon footprint of shipping a faux tree from overseas for distribution and trucking real trees into the city from Canada or upstate can actually but similar, but real trees bring added benefits.
“I think there’s just this misunderstanding that somehow something that gets used year after year is going to be better than something that you use and then disappears,” he said. “But here are the things that I hope folks will think about: The first is real trees produce clean air and clean water. Second, they’re good for wildlife. So when you go out to a Christmas tree nursery, birds, all kinds of critters are living there. It’s also a very important industry in the United States. I mean there are over 12,000 family-owned Christmas tree farms in the United States. It’s a billion-dollar domestic industry and you help keep that up.”
Plus, it smells good, and bonus: Ulfelder says New York is one of the more progressive cities when it comes to tree disposal.
“So at the end of the holidays the best thing you can do as a New Yorker is put your tree out for the city parks department, they will take that to your local park, they will mulch it,” he said. “And then that tree almost gets a new life in death by releasing those nutrients into our parks and making it a more wonderful city.”