Real Christmas trees are the environmentally friendly choice

The Ontario Forestry Association (OFA) presented a Christmas tree to the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, David Onley, last week, the 11th year the presentation has been made to the province’s Lieutenant Governor.

The trees are provided by Somerville Nurseries Inc. of Everett, Ontario. Students in the OFA’s education programs, including Ontario Envirothon and Tree Bee Champions, were recognized for their achievements and participated in the tree presentation during the lighting ceremony.

Christmas is around the corner and many people are preparing to take part in the cherished family tradition of putting up a Christmas tree. At the same time, many are wondering: “Should we get a real tree this year?”

The OFA believes that putting up a real tree will be an environmentally friendly choice.

To some, chopping down a tree is something one should never do, but in this situation, it is the “greener” choice, according to the OFA.

Christmas trees in Canada are grown on farms specifically for the Christmas season. More than 500 farmers produce over one million Christmas trees each year. When trees are harvested, Christmas tree farmers plant new seedlings to replace the chopped trees that will grow for future holiday seasons. As not all trees are harvested at the same time, these farms provide continuous habitat for wildlife and retain soil and water, preventing seasonal runoff.

Furthermore, one acre of planted Christmas trees produces oxygen for 18 people every day! The trees are also 100 per cent biodegradable and, after Christmas, they are mulched and used in municipal parks in the spring. Pharmaceutical companies in Ontario also extract ingredients from tree needles for flu vaccines.

On the other hand, the manufacturing and transportation of non-biodegradable fake Christmas trees require large amounts of fossil fuels. The fake trees also increase waste in landfills as people do not keep their artificial trees forever. The truth is, the average family chooses to purchase a new tree every few years as new designs become available.

When it comes to decorating the tree, be sure to use LED lights. LED lights use 90 per cent less electricity than traditional incandescent seasonal lights, and last up to 10 times longer!

Contrary to popular belief, Christmas trees are relatively easy to get. If you live in a city, many large grocery stores and hardware stores carry them. If you want to get hands on, go to a Christmas tree farm to choose and cut your own tree.

Lastly, don’t forget about the sweet aroma from real Christmas trees. Nothing can beat the familiar scent that only nature can provide.

If you are convinced a real Christmas tree is your choice, here are a few tips on how to choose and take care of your tree.

Choosing a real Christmas tree:

–       The most common trees used during the holidays include pine, fir and spruce. Spruce tend to lose their needles first, fir are somewhat slower.

–       Upon deciding the type and size of Christmas tree, make sure your tree is fresh. A freshly cut tree will last longer and its needles will stay on the branches, instead of your floor.

–       While checking the lot for a fresh tree, make sure that the trunk has some sap coming out of it.

–       Look for a tree that does not have brown needles. The needles of pine and spruce should bend and not break. They should also be hard to pull off the branches.

–       Raise the tree just a few inches and drop it on the base of the trunk. Shake it a little if you can.  If a lot of needles fall, your tree may have been cut too long ago and has already dried out.

Caring for your cut tree:

–       With a saw, remove a two-centimetre disk of wood from the bottom of the trunk, providing a clean cut that allows the tree to absorb water.

–       Ensure that your tree has adequate water. Display your tree away from direct heat to maintain moisture and its fresh look.

–       Some people add floral preservatives, aspirin and even honey to tree stand water, but there is no evidence that these provide any benefit.

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