The Intersection of Christmas Trees, Sustainability, and Asthma
December finds the real vs. live tree debate on all the eco-aware websites, and articles about Christmas trees and mold triggers on all the asthma ones.
This year, I’m combining the two subjects and including information from my post last year.
– Live trees bring mold indoors.
– But artificial trees are made of polyvinyl chloride, or PVC.
– If you don’t know much about PVC yet, here’s the deal: It’s not biodegradable, and you can’t recycle it because recycling involves burning. When PVC burns, it emits dioxins and other cancerous substances. Oh, and dioxin is a by-product of the PVC manufacturing process, too. (Nice, huh?)
– Also, the manufacture of many PVC products incorporates lead, another nasty substance.
– Also, fake trees don’t smell like Christmas.
– Live trees smell beautiful and don’t involve PVC, but large Christmas tree farms are generally heavy on the pesticide applications.
– Plus, growing an entire tree for the sole purpose of cutting it down isn’t winning any sustainability awards, either.
Now, I don’t like using or purchasing items guaranteed not to trigger my kid (like artificial trees) if the production of those items is just going to spew more irritants into the air and bother her asthma eventually, anyway. I won’t even get into the effect of PVC production on soil and the water supply. At the same time, while AG doesn’t have a mold allergy now, her asthma has changed so many times over the years that I try to keep all allergens and airborne irritants to a minimum, just to be safe.
The question is, where do asthma safety and environmental sustainability intersect?
Here’s my take:
– Live trees, especially from small local and/or organic growers are better than artificial ones but only if your lungs can tolerate them.
– But a live tree should be sprayed off first and should air-dry before it comes inside the house.
– Asthma patients whose lungs just can’t handle a live tree but who don’t want to buy an environmentally damaging artificial tree, either, could consider some of the alternative eco-options floating around on the Internet. These include everything from decorating an outside tree or searching for a retro aluminum one.
– But it would be hard to give up the Christmas tree tradition in the U.S., and I’m just not a fan of those shiny silver aluminum trees.
– If live trees triggered my daughter’s asthma, I think I’d go with a used artificial tree instead. That way, I’m not endangering her health but I’m not contributing to a highly polluted industry, either.
If you’re new to this blog and missed my post last year or didn’t click on the link to it up top, you may be asking yourself,
Ah, but she’s written about what tree she would have if her daughter had a mold allergy. What kind of tree does she actually have?
I’ll come clean.
It’s an artificial one, bought 6 years ago before I started to advocate for permaculture and sustainability. And as I wrote in my post last year, it’s the last fake tree I’ll buy.