Of the estimated 36 million Christmas trees expected to be bought this year in the US 93% will be recycled into garden and landscaping mulch. While this is a worthy back-slapping statistic it needs to be considered that 7% still won’t be.
Considered as a ratio, 1 in almost every 10 trees will find their way into landfill, disposed of unthoughtfully or worse still – incinerated. Which must make us wonder why we even bother to educate people to use ‘real’ Christmas trees instead of their artificial counterfeits.
Sure, a ‘real’ Christmas tree will break down within 5 to 10 years while a plastic wanna-be will take aeons but the environmental effect of disposing rather than recycling is of paramount importance.
Assuming the average Christmas tree weighs 4.5kg this calculates as 11.5 thousand tonnes of rotting plant material in places where the nutrient run-off may be detrimental rather than helpful.
Scarier than this is the thought of having 11.5 thousand tonnes of pine incinerated causing creosote deposits and harmful smoke polluting the environment.
What’s the Answer?
People are truly lazy beings. If something becomes an inconvenience then as a species we will find the easiest way to deal with it. So, when it applies to waste we would rather dispose of it than drive out of our way to have it recycled.
Therefore, each retailer of ‘real’ Christmas trees should become responsible for the recycling and mulching of them. If this means raising the price so that the trees can be collected and recycled accordingly then so be it.
Let’s be a little less consumeristic at Christmas and make sure that 100% of ‘real’ Christmas trees are recycled into garden mulch.