In the future we might paint our homes with dead Christmas trees

This year, I found out my back cannot take it anymore. Next year, I’ll be forced to “go fake” for a tree with manageable weight. Maybe I’ll get lucky and find a low-VOC pine scent to keep from feeling too sad.

One thing for sure, though - I won’t miss the !#@&^* tree stand. I’ve got the old-school metal type with the removable legs, ring, and screws. Every Christmas, it’s been the bane of the holiday.


The 2008 recession. Fewer trees were planted then to make up for the shortfall in income. It takes about 10 years for a sapling to grow into something that you’d want as a Christmas tree.


I understand that it’s a problem and that probably the majority of people of either persuasion don’t do the right thing, but I’ll take a short-term logistical problem over a 1,000 year problem any day. Regardless of their final disposition, natural trees readily biodegrade and feed their biome, PVC takes centuries and poisons everything in its vicinity.

I also agree that repurposing the lignocellulose is no kind of solution. At the very least for the same reasons that @hawkeward mentioned re: elephant treats.

NYC has very restrictive, highly enforced laws regulating rubbish on sidewalks. Building owners get huge fines if they allow crap to accumulate for any length of time. Walk down any street with a residence and you’ll see all manner of furniture, store displays, etc tossed to the curb, which is arguably a bigger logistical issue than dead trees, and much more common. It’s something the city just as to deal with. At least with trees there are more favorable options such as municipal compost and mulching operations, which are extensive in NYC.


At least here there was also a major rotation fail. Managing a crop that takes this long is weird. You rotate by the field by also by the row. Only havesting at most 1/3 of a field in a given year, and planting less than you cut to allow some portion of trees the room to get real big. Like 10+ feet.

Through the 90’s we saw this huge spike in farm tourism. Apple picking, local seasonal specialty produce, and Christmas trees and what have in the winter.

Most places initially over harvested, pulled too many trees in a given year. That pushed prices up, and created shortages. And created an opportunity for imported trees and Home Depot to enter the market. Turns out buying the tree near a farm was more important than buying a tree grown on that farm.

So then most places over planted. Crammed the trees in too tight. Which leads to stunted, gnarled trees. And just as the ecconomy hit the skids you had a bunch of farms who’d been spending money they didn’t have. To grow trees they ended up not being able to sell. At exactly the moment where tourism died off and locals couldn’t afford to pay 2x what a tree is worth just because it’s local.

Lot of people pulled out of the business.


It’s the same logistical problem. The trees are just a uniquely flammable, high volume addition to the same “how the fuck do you deal with bulky trash in a city” issue.

Which is really regionally bound. It’s not even all of NYC, just the densest bits (and anywhere brown people live).

Plastic trees aren’t much help. Even where volume year to year might be lower, and they may be less prone to fire. Because there’s no end point. You still have all the issues of picking them up, but unlike the real trees they’re just going to pile up forever.

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Goats love eating them (this from a friend who has a farm and makes goat cheese, mmmm).

Local groups collect used trees to make artificial reefs in the nearby lakes. They are effective fish-attracting devices.

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I rather andhave for decades used the same fake tree. It’s plenty acceptable, lasts forever and is less likely to burn the house down.


They used dead people to make brown pigment.


About twenty years back, my family switched from annual full-size live (well, formerly alive) trees to just using a 3-foot artificial we for some reason already owned. If you keep the decorations to reasonable amounts of sturdy ornaments and lights, you can just unplug it and carry it down into the basement/garage still fully decorated–toss a garbage bag over it to keep off the dust and haul it back out a year later, and you’ve saved yourself at least a few hours of festive cursing.


I’ve had this on my project list for three years or so now:


Thanks, but no thanks, unless I can verify the trees’ provenance and supply chain.

In the case of very young humans, very old humans, infirm humans (fighting cancer, having asthma, etc.) or pregnant humans, this caveat goes twice.

There are quite a few pesticides labeled for agricultural use in Christmas tree farming, and a number of those are “bad actors.” Here’s a well-stocked Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Pesticide Database that draws from European, Californian and U.S. standards, including MSDS, searchable by chemical name and product name.

ETA: clarity re which humans


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