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The environmental thread (no global warming)

Old 11-29-13, 10:35 AM
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The environmental thread (no global warming)

Figured it would be nice to have an environmental thread to cover lots of other topics besides just the Global Warming stuff. Plus I found a story that made me smile because I hate fake Christmas trees.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/18/bu...nted=all&_r=3&

When it comes to Christmas trees, Americans increasingly prefer plastic pines over the real thing.

Sales of fake trees are expected to approach 13 million this year, a record, as quality improves and they get more convenient, with features like built-in lights and easy collapsibility. All told, well over 50 million artificial Christmas trees will grace living rooms and dens this season, according to the industry’s main trade group, compared to about 30 million real trees.

Kim Jones, who was shopping for a tree at a Target store in Brooklyn this week, was convinced that she was doing the planet a favor by buying a $200 fake balsam fir made in China instead of buying a carbon-sipping pine that had been cut down for one season’s revelry.

“I’m very environmentally conscious,” Ms. Jones said. “I’ll keep it for 10 years, and that’s 10 trees that won’t be cut down.”


But Ms. Jones and the millions of others buying fake trees might not be doing the environment any favors.

In the most definitive study of the perennial real vs. fake question, an environmental consulting firm in Montreal found that an artificial tree would have to be reused for more than 20 years to be greener than buying a fresh-cut tree annually. The calculations included greenhouse gas emissions, use of resources and human health impacts.

“The natural tree is a better option,” said Jean-Sebastien Trudel, founder of the firm, Ellipsos, that released the independent study last year.

The annual carbon emissions associated with using a real tree every year were just one-third of those created by an artificial tree over a typical six-year lifespan. Most fake trees also contain polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, which produces carcinogens during manufacturing and disposal.

Ellipsos specifically studied the market for Christmas trees bought in Montreal and either grown in Quebec or manufactured in China. Mr. Trudel said the results would most likely differ for other cities and regions. Excessive driving by consumers to purchase real trees could tip the scales back in favor of artificial trees, at least in terms of carbon emissions.

Over all, the study found that the environmental impact of real Christmas trees was quite small, and significantly less than that of artificial trees — a conclusion shared by environmental groups and some scientists.

“You’re not doing any harm by cutting down a Christmas tree,” said Clint Springer, a botanist and professor of biology at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. “A lot of people think artificial is better because you’re preserving the life of a tree. But in this case, you’ve got a crop that’s being raised for that purpose.”

Makers of fake trees argue that the environmental evidence isn’t quite so clear-cut.

“If you buy an artificial Christmas tree and reuse it for at least five years, it’s absolutely a green thing to do,” said Thomas Harman, founder and chief executive of Balsam Hill, a maker of premium artificial trees. Mr. Harman said that the average amount of car travel by consumers to buy a real Christmas tree outweighed the added energy and pollution costs of buying an artificial tree from China.

The American Christmas Tree Association, the main trade group for artificial tree makers and retailers, says its own study found that it took 10 years of use before a fake tree became better for the environment than a real one, at least in terms of carbon emissions.

Yet the trade-offs are not immediately apparent to consumers and even some tree growers.

On a bitterly cold afternoon at the Winter Market at New York City’s Union Square this week, Lizza Stanley browsed for Christmas trees with her husband, Brian. They wondered if an artificial tree would be better for the environment because it could be reused time and time again.

The tree seller, Rob Rodriguez from Van Houten Farms of Orangeville, Pa., was of little help. “I don’t even know for sure,” Mr. Rodriguez said. “I would guess natural?”

The balance tilts in favor of natural Christmas trees because of the way they are grown and harvested.

Close to 400 million trees now grow on Christmas tree farms in the United States, according to the National Christmas Tree Association, which represents growers and retailers of real trees. About 30 million trees are harvested annually.

The living trees generate oxygen, help fix carbon in their branches and in the soil and provide habitat for birds and animals, Mr. Springer said.

Christmas tree farms also help preserve farmland and green space, particularly near densely populated urban areas where pressure for development is intense.


“It allows people with land that may not be the best farmland to have a crop that they can actually make a profit on, and not be under pressure to sell out to developers,” said Mike Garrett, owner and operator of a Christmas tree farm in Sussex, N.J.

After the holidays, real trees can continue to serve a purpose. New York City, for instance, offers free curbside recycling for trees, which are turned into compost. The city’s parks department also provides a free mulching service for trees at several locations after the holidays. In 2009, nearly 150,000 trees were composted or mulched in the city.

Artificial trees, by contrast, are manufactured almost exclusively in Asia from plastic and metal and cannot be recycled by most municipal recycling programs. After six to 10 years of use, most will end up in a landfill.

Melly Garcia, who bought a six-foot fir on the Upper East Side of Manhattan this week, said she was certain that the real tree was the correct environmental choice.

“The trees are coming from a sustainable place, and if you dispose of it properly, it goes back to the earth,” she said. “So I’m at peace with that.”

Jami Warner, executive director of the American Christmas Tree Association, the group promoting artificial trees, said that neither kind of tree had much of an impact on the environment — “especially when compared to something that most of us do every day, like drive a car,” she wrote in an e-mail.

On that point, Mr. Trudel of Ellipsos agrees.

“When you really consider it, if you exchange a couple of days of commuting by car with carpooling or riding a bicycle, you’ll completely overcompensate for whatever the impact of the tree is,” he said. “It’s not such a big deal. Enjoy your tree, whichever one you prefer.”
I'll be honest in that I never even thought about fake over real trees and the environment (I know, big shocker ), but this makes a lot of sense. We aren't talking old growth forests or something like that, but a crop of relatively young trees that are helping create oxygen while they are growing, and then turned into compost (we burn ours) as opposed to just being a plastic thing that just ends up in the landfill eventually (of which we have more space than we know what to do with).
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Old 11-29-13, 12:31 PM
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Re: The environmental thread (no global warming)

Why would someone simply assume that's made from petrochemicals and shipped from China is greener than something grown nearby?
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Old 11-29-13, 01:43 PM
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Re: The environmental thread (no global warming)

I have to believe that most only think on the surface about such things and the very idea of cutting down a living tree is just seen as wrong to them.
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Old 11-29-13, 04:54 PM
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Re: The environmental thread (no global warming)

People use plastic largely because they're very convenient. Did mine yesterday. It took about 30 seconds. There's no mess. And a $50 tree can last you 5-10+ years before it gets ugly.
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Old 11-29-13, 07:17 PM
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Re: The environmental thread (no global warming)

Wait. So I can buy a fake tree every year and screw up the planet even faster for our up and coming cockroach overlords?

Brilliant!
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Old 12-01-13, 04:04 AM
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Re: The environmental thread (no global warming)

Originally Posted by Nick Danger View Post
Why would someone simply assume that's made from petrochemicals and shipped from China is greener than something grown nearby?
Because today's Enviro-Conscious crowd are retards. The spawn of many years of corporate cultivating and I have to admit, they did a damn good job.
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Old 12-01-13, 12:59 PM
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Re: The environmental thread (no global warming)

Most people think that "going green" means to never disturb anything that occurs naturally. This is, of course, incredibly stupid.

On the flipside, real Christmas trees are a pain in the ass. What a stupid fucking tradition.
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Old 12-02-13, 03:00 PM
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Re: The environmental thread (no global warming)

You can thank those German pagans for that.
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Old 12-02-13, 03:05 PM
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Re: The environmental thread (no global warming)

I love real Christmas trees. They're not really a pain in the ass. Put it up, vacuum. Water it once a day. Take it down, vacuum. Wow, that was such a pain in the ass.
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Old 12-02-13, 05:09 PM
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Re: The environmental thread (no global warming)

Some of us have real concerns in our lives, like whether or not the Borg is a species. We don't have time for vacuuming trees!

Last edited by Supermallet; 12-02-13 at 07:17 PM.
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Old 12-02-13, 06:31 PM
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Re: The environmental thread (no global warming)

Originally Posted by Tracer Bullet View Post
I love real Christmas trees. They're not really a pain in the ass. Put it up, vacuum. Water it once a day. Take it down, vacuum. Wow, that was such a pain in the ass.
If you are okay with the "tradition" of plastic trees, you'd find that the work you put into it IS a pain in the ass.

My fiber optic plastic tree took me 2-3 minutes to put up this year. No buying one. No transportation. No leveling and clamping into the base. No watering. No mess. No smell. The dogs don't bother it. No strands of lights. No carpet protector. No disposal. Also: much cheaper.
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Old 12-03-13, 07:20 AM
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Re: The environmental thread (no global warming)

I hate Christmas trees. I cut one down every year.

There was a guy on the show Shark Tank that was starting a business that delivered full sized, potted Christmas trees and then picked them up after the holiday. Seems like a better solution than a fake tree if you are really concerned about it. I like the idea of having someone deliver my tree - the fun of picking and cutting down a tree is kind of waning for me at this point.

As for plastic trees? No thanks. Half the point of a Christmas tree is getting that pine smell in the house without some lame Yankee candle or something.
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Old 12-03-13, 08:36 AM
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Re: The environmental thread (no global warming)

Originally Posted by Troy Stiffler View Post
If you are okay with the "tradition" of plastic trees, you'd find that the work you put into it IS a pain in the ass.

My fiber optic plastic tree took me 2-3 minutes to put up this year. No buying one. No transportation. No leveling and clamping into the base. No watering. No mess. No smell. The dogs don't bother it. No strands of lights. No carpet protector. No disposal. Also: much cheaper.
I guess maybe I'd feel differently if I had to do more than walk 5 minutes, buy a tree, and walk 5 minutes home with it.
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Old 12-03-13, 09:22 AM
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Re: The environmental thread (no global warming)

Originally Posted by Tracer Bullet View Post
I guess maybe I'd feel differently if I had to do more than walk 5 minutes, buy a tree, and walk 5 minutes home with it.
Yeah most people that buy a tree have to strap it on their car for the ride home. Plus we like to put up 2 or 3 trees each year, so its just easier to use the fakes.
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Old 12-03-13, 10:18 AM
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Re: The environmental thread (no global warming)

My wife switched to a fake tree a few years ago BECAUSE SHE'S A WHORE!!!!

I much prefer a real tree.
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Old 12-03-13, 10:46 AM
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Re: The environmental thread (no global warming)

The best tree is no tree. My wife used to want one even after she quit the Catholic Church and became an atheist forty years ago. About ten years ago she finally said she didn't want it any more. We threw out the fake tree and that was that.
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Old 12-03-13, 11:23 AM
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Re: The environmental thread (no global warming)

Jesus, that's depressing. Christmas is fucking awesome.
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Old 12-03-13, 11:38 AM
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Re: The environmental thread (no global warming)

I've always despised the tradition of Christmas trees, if only because so many of them end up jammed into dumpsters, or discarded on sidewalks and alleys. If you're taking the time to go out and pick one up, you should also take the time to take it to a recycler. Maybe there should be a $10 deposit fee added to trees. I think a lot of people would be more willing to dispose of them properly if it meant some cash back.

I think that may be why some people might think an artificial tree is better, as it seems so wasteful to grow a tree, chop it down merely to be used as decoration for a couple of weeks, then toss it into a landfill.
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Old 12-03-13, 12:00 PM
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Re: The environmental thread (no global warming)

stupid non-biodegradable natural trees!
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Old 12-03-13, 12:43 PM
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Re: The environmental thread (no global warming)

Originally Posted by kvrdave View Post
I much prefer a real tree.
I agree. There's nothing like the warm squishy feel of a ... tree?
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Old 12-03-13, 01:17 PM
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Re: The environmental thread (no global warming)

Originally Posted by Paff View Post
I've always despised the tradition of Christmas trees, if only because so many of them end up jammed into dumpsters, or discarded on sidewalks and alleys. If you're taking the time to go out and pick one up, you should also take the time to take it to a recycler. Maybe there should be a $10 deposit fee added to trees. I think a lot of people would be more willing to dispose of them properly if it meant some cash back.

I think that may be why some people might think an artificial tree is better, as it seems so wasteful to grow a tree, chop it down merely to be used as decoration for a couple of weeks, then toss it into a landfill.
This is the beauty of living in the boonies. I pick up all the Christmas trees of my renters, take them out to the field and have a nice bonfire.
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Old 12-03-13, 01:32 PM
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Re: The environmental thread (no global warming)

Originally Posted by kvrdave View Post
This is the beauty of living in the boonies. I pick up all the Christmas trees of my renters, take them out to the field and have a nice bonfire.
Psh. I did that in McCarren Park last year. AND charged admission to hipsters for a "winter solstice party"!!!
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Old 12-03-13, 02:11 PM
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Re: The environmental thread (no global warming)

i have a fake tree and its fucking awesome... does the job with less mess.. plus i love the yankee candle smell.. does the job with less mess.
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Old 12-03-13, 02:26 PM
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Re: The environmental thread (no global warming)

Originally Posted by movielib View Post
The best tree is no tree. My wife used to want one even after she quit the Catholic Church and became an atheist forty years ago. About ten years ago she finally said she didn't want it any more. We threw out the fake tree and that was that.
There is no religious connotation to our Christmas tree - unless you count the religion of crass consumerism.
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Old 12-03-13, 02:41 PM
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Re: The environmental thread (no global warming)

Originally Posted by CRM114 View Post
There is no religious connotation to our Christmas tree - unless you count the religion of crass consumerism.
Whether the Christmas tree has any religious significance varies from person to person.

Look, I know that the whole stupid concept was stolen from the pagans. It's still called a Christmas tree and many Christians make a big deal out of them (e.g. my in-laws) and I don't freaking want one.



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