Thursday, 24 December 2009

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree

Hands up if you have a plastic Christmas tree. Ok, if you’ve got a hand in the air, then maybe this is the best time for you to step out of the room.

Fake Plastic Trees
I hate plastic Christmas trees. And I say the word hate with as much venom as I can muster. Ok, maybe I’m being a bit harsh. If you want to have a plastic tree, then that’s your choice. But, personally, I don’t see the point. Christmas for me (well, part of it anyhow) is coming down in the morning and getting that beautiful waft of Christmas tree smell. It’s having those pine needles all over the sitting room floor, and it’s watching the cat go mental chasing after them. Aside from the fact that it’s ugly and plastic, you just don’t get any of that with a fake tree.

Or the Real Thing
I’m sure there are downsides, ecologically and environmentally speaking, to having a real tree in my house at Christmas, and I really should look into them, but right now I’m pretty much just thinking: Christmas! Tree! Christmas! Tree!

Bron and I went to buy our tree last Friday. There’s a farm on the edge of Newquay that sells them, where we go each year. I don’t know where their trees come from – they don’t grow them themselves – but I figure at least this way I’m supporting the local community more than if I bought a tree from, say, B&Q.

Now, as you may have guessed by my earlier rant, in my world choosing the right Christmas tree is a serious business. There was uproar a few years ago, when I still lived at home, and my parents decided to buy a teeny tiny one that would sit on the coffee table. ‘I want a BIG tree!’ was pretty much the repeated refrain. I got used to the little one (kind of), but they’ve never taken that route again.

So come Friday, there Bron and I were, at the farm, going round looking very carefully at all the trees to find the most perfect one for our little home. After some very careful consideration – and after our running favourite got stolen away from under our noses by some other punter, the decision was made. Take it up to the barn and hand it over to the man, who pops it through his special machine to tie it all up.

Say No to Netting
Hang on a second, did I say tie it up? Yes, I did. And I knew it was going to happen – we’ve been there every year for the last four years, after all, but I just didn’t stop it. So now our lovely bright, fresh tree is wrapped up in plastic netting.

It’s a bit of a conundrum this one. Though, having said that, maybe it shouldn’t be. People have been buying trees and lugging them home in their unwrapped state for decades, why can’t we do that today? Because it’s easier to have it wrapped up. It goes in the car easier (or, in this case, Bron’s van) and it’ll lose fewer needles and twigs along the journey. So I get more for my money. Which is a good thing, right?

But what about all that plastic netting? Not just from my tree, but from the hundreds and thousands of trees that have been purchased in this country alone over the last couple of weeks. It’ll all go into the bin and off to the dump, and then we’ll all do the same thing again next year. What a waste.

And from this perspective, I have to wonder, are plastic trees really that bad? At least they go away into the attic at the end of the season each year. Oof. No. Sorry, I just can’t do it. But next year I will have to promise to be strong and take my tree as it comes. Maybe I should start a campaign: Say No to Netting.

A Real Plastic Tree?
On the side of alternative trees, though, here is one that I saw at the Eden Project a few days ago. It has a metal frame, but other than that it’s made entirely of plastic bags. Not only a cunning statement, but pretty effective. I’d love to see it all lit up in the evening.

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