I've gone back and forth on the issue of the Christmas tree. One the one hand, it seems really wasteful and somewhat bizarre to adorn a dead tree with lights and ornaments and prop it up in the middle of the living room. On the other hand, I have a great collection of ornaments that I like to display, and the site and smell of the tree in my house always puts me in a festive mood. (Except for the year when my lab pulled the twinkle lights off the tree and ate them. That killed my festive mood immediately.) So, before I moved forward on the purchase of tree, I had to do a little research. Just how much would I be messing with the environment by choosing to have this traditional display of festiveness?
It turns out, the answer isn't is bad as you would think. Swaths of forest are not being destroyed just so that I can have a little holiday spirit. Most Christmas trees are a renewable crop that are grown on farms. In some areas, the Forest Service issues permits for people to harvest wild trees. However, this is done to create fire breaks, so you are basically paying them to assist in their forest maintenance.
But what happens when you are done with your tree? Doesn't it turn in to landfill? The answer is no. Many communities offer curb-side pick up of trees after the holidays, which are then recycled. In the city of Los Angeles, you can simply cut up your tree (or have your gardener do it) and put it in the green trash bin. You can also take it a step further and compost it! For more options, go to the Earth 911 website, which is also a great resource to find out where and how to recycle just about anything.