07 Dec 2021

    It’s that time of the year again, except I have my inner eco-warrior voice in my head, telling me to watch out for Mother-Earth-unfriendly items.

    Yes, they may shine, they may attract the eye, compelling all with their dazzle and glitter. Those beautiful Christmas trees, some already mounted, ready to go home, with imitation snow powder sprayed all over their fake green ramifications.


    Then there is the real deal, the one from Denmark, from Estonia, Italy or even Sweden. The cost is correct – (I’ve seen plastic Christmas trees for around 800 drhs or more) – however they will only last a season and one needs to buy a tree holder also. But the scent of it, the look of it, the color, the all of it, it’s just so different.


    As a mother, I want to show the best example to my child who represents the future generation.


    So what should I do?

    I’m thinking about my exhausted purse, my child – I will take a Christmas tree! – and the need to elevate the festive spirits with all this “Vid 19” that’s been tarnishing 2020 even if this year we’re not going to be a full family gathered around a common tree….


    Now, on a more serious level, there is a grave situation going on and it has many names:  Climate Change, Global Warming, Deforestation, Waste, Pollution and the not so recyclable for ever lasting plastic, mass consumption, over population, pesticides, over fishing, daily chemical spills…etc


    Trying not to get depressed, and to act in a positive manner, I tap into it.

    The plastic debate…there are so many types of plastic used to make a Christmas tree, often emanating toxic chemicals responsible for many illnesses…like polyvinyl chloride, very hard to recycle, that is, so close to impossible that the vast majority of them end up…in landfills.


    Most of the fake Christmas trees come from China, Taiwan or South Korea, now don’t get me wrong, these are not bad countries. The reason for my frustration is the shipping distance between China and all the countries of the world, increasing the fake tree’s carbon footprint which is already having a bad start in terms of a carbon footprint…


    To match a real tree, a plastic tree will have to be kept-and used! – for about 12 years in order to have an equivalent carbon footprint with the good old pine tree. But even then, those trees will never decay per say and will contribute to either soil pollution and increase chemicals in the air as they are destroyed by fire or pollute the land. There is no plan “Compost” for these trees.  Fact: A two-meter fake Christmas tree has a carbon footprint of 40 kg and that’s just on the production.


    But what about the real thing?

    A tree takes 10 to 15 years to grow to the minimum height for it to be eligible for sale. That’s a footprint of 3.5 kg…It’s nothing! Perhaps equivalent to a 14 minutes’ drive…the footprint may increase if it decays in a landfill of up to 16 kg…but it remains a natural occurrence. Good news, is that it’s compostable, which reduces the footprint drastically either way.


    But they are getting pricy and rare. The weather in the past years has not helped. Fires, storms and the recession of 2008. Fires have not speared farms nor the recession. People went for the fake Christmas trees in the ultimate effort to spare some coins. Therefore, many farms disappeared. Now the demand for natural trees is higher even as there are fewer and fewer available. But hey, holiday trees provide wildlife habitat, protect soils from erosion, floods and clean the air, trapping carbon along their life of12 to 15 years which is a lot! By buying a a farmed tree, you contribute to the local economy of the farm in question with most being run by families, which does not necessarily apply to factory-made low-cost plastic trees. Farms alone will replant trees, more than they wish to sell, in order to maintain stock and encourage growth. Now in Dubai, it would be difficult to think we contribute to the local economy by buying a real Christmas tree, there is a shipping footprint etc. But at the end of the day, am I making a far better choice in encouraging an environmental benefit rather than a fake one (Environmentally, economically, health-wise, climate-wise speaking and the list goes on)?


    With a plastic tree, my wallet will be charmed, perhaps not my health nor the health of the planet…. Morale versus bank account but what am I saying…the polyethylene one is very pricy!

    My conscious is safe, I’m going home with the natural scent of a pine tree and everyone is happy.




    1. Smithers, 2019, « The Guardian », Wed 30 Oct 2019 15.11 GMT, accessed 20 November 2020


    M.Ketchell, 2019,  « The conversation », December 17, 2019 3.31am AEDT, accessed 20  November 2020


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