29 December 2012, 14:42

Environmentalists advocate buying live Christmas trees

Environmentalists advocate buying live Christmas trees

The highlight of New Year’s Eve in many countries, including Russia, is the Christmas tree. However, people, especially those who want to protect the environment, more and more often ask what kind of tree to choose, an artificial or a live one.

The answer would seem to be in favour of an artificial product but things are not that simple. Scientists believe that manufacturing artificial trees harms nature more than cutting down live ones.

Even recently it was believed that it is better to buy re-usable artificial trees rather than those cut down in the forest. However, now environmentalists dispose of this opinion and recommend buying live trees. It turned out that live trees are more environmentally-friendly than artificial ones. Plastic trees start hurting the environment from the very beginning of their existence because an awful lot of hazardous substances are emitted into the atmosphere during their manufacture. This means that ‘tree huggers’ should think twice before buying a plastic tree, the head of Greenpeace Russia’s Forest Programme Alexey Yaroshenko says.

“If you want to protect the environment it is better to buy a specially planted and cut down live tree every year than a plastic tree once every 15 years. Christmas trees are grown at special plantations located where natural forest does not grow, for example in open spaces under electric mains. The damage to the environment in cutting down such trees is minimal. As for the manufacture of a plastic Christmas tree, it consumes a lot of electricity, natural gas and oil. This results in large emissions of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which is tremendously harmful for the environment. Thus, it turns out that a specially planted Christmas tree is better than a plastic one.”

Growing Christmas trees is one of forestries’ main income sources. The money is used for protecting forests, taking care of them and cleaning them from rubbish. Another fashionable environmentally-friendly trend is buying trees in a pot. Lovers of the environment buy or even rent a Christmas tree in a tub and when the celebration is over plant it in a nursery garden. However, those who want to do this should bear in mind that not every tree in a pot has a chance of a second life, environmentalists warn. If a tree was dug out of the soil the day before New Year and was placed in a pot after its roots were cut short, this tree has no chance of survival, Alexey Yaroshenko stresses.

Another way to protect the environment is to celebrate New Year without a tree at all. Sociologists say that this year every fifth Russian will do this, which is a record number over the last five years. Still, an overwhelming majority of Russians will have a Christmas tree at home, assistant director of the Levada Centre Alexey Grazhdankin told The Voice of Russia.

“We have been asking Russians what kind of Christmas tree they will have at home since the late 1990s. Over this period the number of those who will have a live tree has remained approximately unchanged, about one third of Russians. At the same time, the number of those who prefer artificial trees has grown from 30% at the end of the 1990s to 40% today.”

Those who prefer a live tree but also want to make a contribution to the protection of the environment can take advantage of some forestries’ suggestion of planting a new coniferous tree to replace a cut down one. Such a new tree would have an individual number and a registered location in the global navigation system. The ‘owner’ of the tree would be able to come to the place where they planted the tree at any time and watch the tree grow.

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