ARE REAL SUSTAINABLE CHRISTMAS TREES?

are-real-christmas-trees-sustainable

If we talk about Christmas trees, surely your plastic Christmas tree full of lights and Christmas decorations comes to your mind. Is this sustainable? What if we talk about the Christmas trees in Germany? That already changes the whole story. In today’s article, we want to talk about sustainability in Christmas trees and how the Christmas tree trade is more sustainable in Germany.

The sustainability of Christmas trees

What trees are more sustainable? Are all natural trees sustainable? Let’s see it! 

Plastic trees 

Plastic trees are manufactured with raw materials from fossil fuels oh PVC (polyvinyl chloride), polyethylene, and toxic products made in Asian countries from where they have to be transported.

The Official College of Forest Technical Engineers and Graduates in Forest Engineering, and the Natural Environment recommends opting for natural Christmas trees since, unlike plastic ones, they don’t generate CO2. In addition, they recommend that once the Christmas festivities are over, it has to be transplanted or taken to a municipal collection center.

The most recommended are autochthonous pines and firs that have passed the pertinent phytosanitary controls. The firs that are usually sold for Christmas come from central Europe, planted to become Christmas trees, so they can hardly take root in the natural environment: 90% of them die.

Natural Trees

Nevertheless, natural trees also have some other drawbacks. There are 3 possibilities when buying Christmas trees:

a) Tree extracted from the ground with hardly any roots

It’s the most common today. The specimen is pulled up with very few roots or cut directly at ground level so that after the festivities it dies irretrievably. They are “throwaway” trees. Some municipalities have containers for collection and then crush them and recycle this material as compost.

b) Tree extracted with a root ball of soil

If it has been dug up with a good “glob” of soil attached to its roots, there is a chance that it will survive after being in the house. You can try its subsequent planting in the garden or put it in a pot, but certainly, the rooting is very difficult.

Certain municipalities collect fir and pine trees or they must be taken to a municipal nursery to try to recover them and later replant them in parks and gardens. Those that are dried are also recycled for compost.

c) Tree grown in a pot

You can buy a pot-grown plant that after January 6 can be kept as a Houseplant or planted outside.

It’s advisable to check that it has been potted for some time (pull it out or take out the pot and the root ball of soil must be kept whole, without falling apart) to ensure that the roots keep the root ball compact. 

Therefore, each year, 80% of the trees purchased end up in the trash or are transplanted but barely survive. Moreover, the cultivated trees carry pesticides, unless they are ecological and use fossil fuel for their cultivation and transport.

Maybe buying a Christmas tree (unless it will last you decades) is not very sustainable. And are the trees of Germany sustainable?

Christmas tree, a tradition born in Germany 

The Christmas tree is a deeply rooted custom in Germany that has spread throughout the world. Today, in almost every country on the globe, it’s difficult to imagine a Christmas Eve without a lighted and decorated tree as a witness to the celebrations. “Christbaum” (Christ tree in German) was called in ancient times.

When was this tradition introduced? 

It’s said that the “Weihnachtsbaum” or Christmas tree was introduced as a Christmas element for the first time in Germany in 1605. 

Did you know that at first it was decorated with candles, apples, nuts, and food? Nowadays, apples and candles are replaced by the typical balls and electric lights… Maybe the first option was better! 

But, is this tradition sustainable?

After the festivities, it’s very common to find the streets full of the corpses of these trees, although the municipalities establish certain dates for their collection and subsequent recycling as a source of combustion. According to the BSR (Berlin cleaning service) with the Christmas trees collected from the streets of Berlin (about 350,000 each year), they manage to generate enough energy to supply 500 homes for a whole year. And as a curious fact, the trees that have not been sold are donated to zoos to feed elephants.

Also every year, new initiatives for sustainable Christmas trees appear in Germany and Berlin, which are more respectful of the environment and that offer alternatives such as replanting fir trees after the holidays.

Therefore, do you think they are sustainable? Do you have any ideas to make this tradition even more respectful of the environment? Let us know!

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