MUNCIE, Ind. (AP) - Environmental officials and activists want Indiana
residents to go green this Christmas.
The Indiana Department of Environmental Management is urging Hoosiers to
help the environment and the economy by buying Indiana-grown Christmas trees
this year instead of artificial ones.
Indiana tree farms grow a wide variety of trees, though some - such as the
popular Fraser fir - don’t grow well in the state. Most of those trees are
brought in from places like Michigan or North Carolina, where soil
conditions and temperatures are more conducive to their growth.
That shouldn’t prevent people from checking out real trees instead of
artificial ones, IDEM spokesman Dan Goldblatt said.
“Unlike artificial trees, which are usually made of petroleum-based products
and smell the same way a plastic shoe horn smells, a real Christmas tree can
fill your home with fresh air and can be recycled,” Goldblatt told The Star
Press. “Even after you cut the tree down and put it in your house, it
continues to absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen as long as it has a
fresh water supply to keep it alive.”
The Nature Conservancy, the Sierra Club and other environmental groups share
his view, saying artificial trees typically made of metal and polyvinyl
chloride aren’t biodegradable and often wind up in landfills after six to
Real trees can be recycled into mulch or used as habitats for wildlife
during the winter.
"A lot of people, when they’re done with their tree, they put them outdoors
on their property,” said Bob Beavers of Branch Ranch, a Christmas tree farm
in Yorktown. “They’re a great home for birds to have a warm place to live in
The Indiana Christmas Tree Growers Association says deforestation isn’t a
concern because the trees are grown as crops. One to three new seedlings are
planted for every tree that is harvested, the association says.
Beavers said that in cases of fire, real trees can even be safer than their
fake counterparts because they hold moisture. “It’s kind of the opposite of
what you would think,” he said. “Because of the moisture, it’s difficult to
get a real tree to burn. More damage is caused by an artificial tree fire
because of the petroleum. A plastic tree fire is much more of an intense
fire, and the fumes are hazardous.”
People still on the fence can heed the Sierra Club’s advice and avoid a
Christmas tree altogether. House plants, an outdoor tree or even a wooden
tree made of recycled material can serve as green alternatives.