Saturday, December 5, 2009

Supporting family traditions

This wonderful wooden carved Santa was on hand to welcome us to the Jones Family Farm this morning as we arrived to cut down our Christmas tree. After discussing with my husband and son the environmental impacts of cutting a tree and possible alternatives, we decided to continue with tradition and head out to the tree farm. My thirteen year old son has never known a Christmas where we didn't find and cut our own tree, so of course his vote was to do what we have always done. My husband mentioned that the many other environmental practices we participate in would balance out this particular indiscretion. As I saw it, within the realm of having a natural tree, we had three options.

1) Cut boughs from local evergreens and bring them inside. This option was quickly nixed by my son and husband as not providing the proper Christmas atmosphere. While I felt this would be the best zero waste option, I had to agree with them that it would not be the most rewarding option after establishing a tradition that involved enjoying the sight and smell of a real Christmas tree in our home.
2) Purchase a tree from Whole Foods. The pros behind this decision would be that we could walk to get the tree and bring it home. Also, Whole Foods would plant five new trees to replace the one we purchased through their Trees for the Future program. The cons would be that the trees would not be local and were transported long carbon producing distances.
3) Purchase a tree from the Jones Family Farm. We ultimately decided to go with this decision because it would allow us to support a local farmer while spending some quality time together as a family. The drawback to this decision would involve us driving quite a distance to the tree farm, but we figured our overall reduction in driving since moving to this area far outweighed the impact this one trip would make.

This exercise in considering my impact in regard to a Christmas tree has made me decide I would rather not change meaningful family traditions for the sake of eliminating any potential environmental impact. Family traditions contribute to the joy of living and should be preserved when possible, as long as they are not overly impactful. Any environmental cost of maintaining these traditions can be offset by reducing yearly miles driven, energy used, or waste generated. The pain from reducing my household heat or buying less will be easier felt than changing those traditions our family holds dear.


Jen said...

Just read an article about this and purchasing a tree from a tree farm is considered the most eco-friendly tree. They are grown on sustainable farms and can be mulched after Christmas. Enjoy your tree - guilt free.

Fun Mama - Deanna said...

I wouldn't consider cutting a real Christmas tree a negative impact anyway, because its sole purpose of being raised on the farm was to be cut down, and the farmer probably intends to replace it. There is a chance that the Christmas trees on that farm are replacing land that would not have trees on it otherwise. I enjoyed your thoughtful discussion. I found your blog by looking for family traditions through google.