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Get Real for Christmas, Go Green

Pennsylvania has more than 1,300 Christmas tree farms. (CBF Photo)
Pennsylvania has more than 1,300 Christmas tree farms. (CBF Photo)
December 5, 2016

HARRISBURG, Pa. – If you want to help the environment this Christmas, you might want to "get real" when you're shopping for a tree.

Environmentalists point out artificial Christmas trees often end up as plastic waste in a landfill. And according to B.J. Small, director of media and communications for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation in Pennsylvania, real trees are not only biodegradable, they're actually good for the environment through their entire life cycle.

"On the farm, they stabilize soil, reduce erosion and help reduce polluted runoff, because trees filter and absorb pollutants that would otherwise make their way into local rivers and streams," he explains.

After Christmas, real trees can be recycled as mulch or compost, or returned to the environment as food and habitat for wildlife.

Small adds there's also another option – people can plant living trees.

"They can choose to buy a real tree in burlap or in a container, and actually plant those then after the holiday season so the benefits of the Christmas trees keep on giving," he points out.

Nationally, Christmas tree farming is a $1 billion industry employing more than 100,000 people.

Here in Pennsylvania, an estimated 1 million Christmas trees are harvested every year, which Small notes provides one more benefit.

"We're fourth in the nation in the number of acreage, 31,000 acres, that are dedicated to Christmas trees so buying real Christmas trees benefits the environment but also the economy," he states.

A real tree may not be right for everyone. But for most, getting real for Christmas can be a gift to the environment that lasts all year.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - PA