Here are some quick facts and suggestions for an environmentally friendlier Christmas from the Enviro Crew of OOS’s Tree Team.
- The carbon footprint of a real tree is about 16 kg CO2 (if it ends up in landfill, where it emits methane as well as CO2); that of an artificial tree is 2.5 times that. Burning or chipping your tree reduces its footprint significantly (to 3.5 kg CO2) as you simply release the CO2 that it accumulated while growing.
- Consider buying your tree from a charitable organization. Habitat for Humanity sells trees every year at the Ottawa Tennis Club at the west end of Cameron Street.
- Be creative: make a tree from books, scrap paper, metal coat hangers, felt, etc. A friend of mine has a beautiful tree made from grape vine wreaths (see photo).
- Decorations - it’s amazing what you can do with simple materials. Take a ball of red wool and tie little bows on all the branches. Loop together recycled-paper links to make chains—or use cranberries or popcorn. Kids can help.
- A living tree is the best solution of all, but it’s quite difficult to keep a spruce or fir tree alive outside in a pot, then subject it to 2 weeks of room temperature before putting it back outside in January. Another friend uses a Norfolk Island Pine, which is in the house all the time. At Christmas, he just moves it to the living room and decorates it (with lightweight ornaments).
- Consider not having a tree. For the last few years, I’ve been hanging my Christmas ornaments from the shelf across my front window. I put my Santa collection and reindeers on the shelf for a very festive look.
However you celebrate the holidays, please take a minute to consider the impact of what you do on the environment. We need to include the Earth in all our festivities.
Sandy Garland is a resident of OOS and a member of the Enviro Crew’s Tree Team.
Featured in the December 2021 OSCAR.