A Sustainable Tradition Worth Celebrating

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The Christmas tree industry in North Carolina plays a key role in both the state’s agricultural economy and its holiday traditions.

Did you know North Carolina ranks 2nd in the U.S. in (real) Christmas tree production? Amazing!

This industry not only contributes to the state’s economy but also provides families across America with beautiful, sustainably-grown trees for their holiday celebrations.

This year, I hope you choose the tradition of buying a real Christmas tree. Choosing a real Christmas tree is the sustainable choice because it promotes environmentally-friendly practices, supports local economies, and can be easily recycled or repurposed after the holiday season.

Throughout this article I will be referring to a fantastic publication that our North Carolina Christmas Tree Association has written.

Real Christmas Tree vs. Fake Christmas Tree

 “Sustainable” and “environmentally-friendly” are buzz words nowadays, so what do I really mean when I use those words to describe a real Christmas tree?

Real Christmas trees are a sustainable choice because for every real Christmas tree harvested, another one is planted in its place to ensure a steady supply year after year. Compared to their fake alternative which Fake Christmas trees are made from non- renewable plastics. The manufacture of petroleum-based plastics uses up natural resources. Once used, they are gone for-ever. Fake Christmas trees are not biodegradable. The plastics and metals that they contain, including lead, will remain in our landfills for centuries.

Plus, did you know that fake Christmas trees are made in Korea, Taiwan, or China? Shipping those trees to the U.S. in itself causes a sustainability nightmare, especially when we grow real ones right here in Western NC!

Real Christmas trees are also an environmentally-friendly choice. One reason is because one acre of Christmas trees provides the daily oxygen requirement for 18 people.

There are about 500,000 acres (38,000 of those being in NC) of Christmas trees in the United States which collectively provide oxygen for 9 million people daily. Young, fast-growing trees like Christmas trees release more oxygen than mature forest trees. Real Christmas trees absorb carbon dioxide and other harmful “greenhouse” gases and release fresh oxygen into the air.

An additional fact that most people may not think of is that the Christmas tree fields also support wildlife like turkey, quail, songbirds, rabbits and deer.

An All-American Renewable, Recyclable Resource

  • Real trees can be chipped into biodegradable mulch, which replenishes soil in landscapes, parks, and schools. A lot of communities offer recycling program- check your local municipalities!
  • Other options include habitats and food for wildlife and livestock. When sunk in ponds, they provide excellent refuge and feeding areas for fish. They’re also used as a feeding station and winter shelter for songbirds in your yard. Folks with goats and other ruminants will use real Christmas trees in their pastures for their animals to snack on.
  • Lastly, real Christmas trees are the gift that keeps on giving. After the season is over, and it’s time to dispose of them, you have many wonderful options of disposal.

By now, I hope you have been convinced to buy a real Christmas tree this year if you are able. It’s not only the best choice from a sustainable standpoint, but it also supports our local farmers here in NC!

Check out this article online to review more information on real Christmas trees

Purchasing an NC Christmas Tree | NC State Extension

Christmas tree farm

North Carolina is ranked #2 in the production of real Christmas trees in the U.S.
Credit: This photo is courtesy of our Ashe County Christmas Tree Association.