Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Green Christmas Trees: Real Is the Real Thing, at Least In Canada

We're off to get our Christmas tree this morning at Jean Talon Market. One of the nice things about Lee not teaching, is that we can undertake such endeavors any time we feel like it, and today promises to be about the only one this week without extreme weather. The tree we’ll get will probably be about 9 feet tall (our old house has high ceilings) and what is called her démi-cultivé, that is planted on a farmer’s woodlot but not pruned and cosseted as it grew.

This is the kind of tree we’ve had every year since we had enough money to buy a full-size tree. But even when Lee was in graduate school and I was a humble reporter on a suburban daily we’ve bought “real.” Now I’m pleased to see that our choices have been ecological sound, at least as long as we’ve been in Montreal. Geeta Nadkarni, CBC Montreal’s green specialist recently gave the run down.

Fake trees, she says, “are made of toxic, non-biodegradable materials and are often shipped over from China.” But real trees are carbon sinks and thus help to reduce greenhouse gases. As well they are replanted upon harvest, grown in soil that isn't usually used for cultivation, and they create local jobs that wouldn't other wise exist, Furthermore, in recent years many cities have been picking them after the holidays to chip and compost.

Many of the several million trees produced in Quebec are sold as far away as California and Mexico: La Presse Affaires reports that prices in US dollars are down this year, but given the exchange rate producers here should see an increase in profits as measured in Canadian dollars It’s possible that transportation might increase the carbon footprint of trees hauled all the way across the continent, but still, I think there’s nothing nicer than the smell of a tree.

Now to chip the car out of the garage and brave the ice in the lane ...

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