Save green in every sense of the word this holiday season
By Cory Schachtel | December 3, 2013
Christmas TREES – Real or fake?
Fake trees have a lot going for them – no needles, less hassle and less expensive to own in the long-term. Environmentally, though, they’re a problem, according to Naomi Krogman, professor at the department of resource economics and environmental sociology at the University of Alberta.
“Taking into account the manufacturing, transportation and disposal of real and fake trees, the break-even number of years to keep an artificial tree, such that the impacts are comparable to a real tree purchased every year, is between nine and 20 years.”
So if you have the cash and Christmas spirit, it’s better to go natural and “treecycle.” Set your tree out in January [check the city’s website for updates on when trees can be put out] and the city will pick it up within two weeks.
Go full-on festive and you’ll find Fir Ever Green Tree Farm in Falun, Alta., an hour south of the city, where you choose-and-cut your own tree, then sip hot cocoa in a log cabin.
LIGHTS – LED or traditional?
When deciding with which lights to deck your tree, there’s a clear winner. LEDs last 10 times longer and are more weather-and break-resistant.
“The amount and quality of light emitted by an LED doesn’t change over time,” says Krogman. They may cost a few dollars more than their incandescent counterparts, but the difference is negligible, since they require less energy.
Wrapping paper is, by design, a waste – the only part of Christmas thrown away each year. So the biggest benefit to gift bags is their reusability. It’s simply cheaper and greener to re-bag presents.
“Decorative wrapping can contain lead, synthetic inks, plastic film, chlorine or metal-based foils, which release carcinogenic compounds into the air when burned,” says Krogman. But there are more creative ways to gift-wrap that are more environmentally friendly. “The comic section of newspapers, pictures from old calendars, brown paper with homemade designs, decorative boxes and baskets.”