Editor’s Notebook


By Greta Belanger deJong

If scruples about cutting down a living tree were the main reason driving you skip buying a Christmas tree this year, relax.

While cutting down a conifer from somebody’s front yard is a pretty heinous act (this happened in our neighborhood last week), buying a farmed tree is not in bad form. A Christmas tree is, after all, a crop, raised for this particular purpose, often on terrain not suited to other crops. Cutting your own on designated sites is also a decent option. Properly cared for (water, water, water!), your cut green tree will delight your soul for days—well into 12th Night (Saturday, January 5th, 2019—the last of the 12 days of Christmas).

And when its days are done, you can plunk it into a backyard snowbank to provide shelter for birds or take part in your area’s Christmas tree recycling program.

Certainly not a bad end, especially compared to the travel-weary made-in-China polyvinyl chloride-and-steel dust-catching alternative that will, when tossed, remain crap for centuries to come.

Speaking of travel: “Nothing that we do pumps carbon dioxide into the atmosphere faster than air travel,” writes Pulitzer prize-winner and climate stability author Jack Miles. Atmosfair, a German public interest group, recommends limiting your air travel to about 3,100 miles per year, he reports in “For the Love of Earth, Stop Traveling” (Washington Post, Nov. 2, 2017). For measure, one round trip from Salt Lake City to New York’s JFK airport is about 4,000 miles.

Sure, the small, daily efforts we make toward a zero-waste lifestyle add up. Let’s do the easy, sensible things. Harder, but far more important, is to get real about our travel habits. Maybe pick your flight occasions with greater care and let aesthetics, rather than climate concerns, be the guide when it comes to holiday tree selection.


Greta deJong has had a two-ft.-tall rotating blinky-light fake tree for the past 25 years. She just changed its light bulb and expects to have it another 25.

This article was originally published on December 12, 2018.