Live Christmas Trees

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Welcome to Good Dirt Radio… reporting on positive solutions taking root.

If healthy rich soil serves as the digestive system of the planet then, trees are the lungs. They play a major role in absorbing carbon dioxide, filtering air pollution and… making oxygen. Trees help control erosion and support healthy soil, which sequesters even more CO2. But how often do you go out and plant a tree? Since many of us are responsible for cutting one down every year, [*cue Christmas music] what if this year’s Christmas tree was alive and potted, to be planted after the Holidays? Sure, its just one tree, but with so many of us out there, enough people catching on to an idea like this, can make a big difference. It can create positive changes in the climate.

Other, risky, costly solutions, like toxic geo-engineering and sequestering CO2 in the ground…are long shots with major liabilities when it comes to helping the climate crisis. But knowing that planting a tree can make a direct, tangible difference every year can be a meaningful action.

Even though tree experts everywhere say the answer is to plant trees, each year, Americans cut about 35 million trees for Christmas, most of which end up in a landfill, far short of the tree’s potential, after a single use. Live Christmas trees are affordable for most and help offset holiday consumption and waste related pollution, while cleaning and refreshing our air.

As program manager for the Arbor Day Foundation’s million plus members, Dan Lambe’s mission is to inspire folks to plant, nurture and celebrate trees. Lambe says US, state and local foresters, nurseries and tree farms, as well as non-profit organizations, [like Arbor Day], can help you find a live Christmas Tree but… advocates local sources for acclimated live trees where the farmers replant and jobs are created.

Lambe: More and more people are choosing to go out and purchase a potted Christmas tree and planting it in their yard, using that as their living Christmas tree. And the benefits they receive are all year long. We’re helping to protect the environment through that tree helping to clean our air, clean the water, helping to provide energy conservation in the form of wind breaks on cold winter days, shade on hot summer days, helping to store carbon and fight the effects of climate change in our country and also to help provide wildlife habitat. What’s important is, if you are going to use a container tree as a Christmas tree in your home, usually a spruce or a fir tree that families can decorate and celebrate, is to make sure you’re using the right tree and caring for the tree in the right way.

Lambe says holiday shoppers can start, now – to offset their consumption related pollution by planting trees, while helping provide jobs and cleaner air.

Lambe: A lot of people today are wondering what can they do to help the environment. There’s lots of creative ways that people are participating with living Christmas trees, taking it upon themselves to plant a new tree at their home or to use a living Christmas tree that they already have at their home or often times people will find house plants that they can decorate instead of going to buy a new Christmas tree, buying an artificial Christmas tree or cutting down a tree just for the Holiday Season.

John Fogel is a Portland, OR entrepreneur and one of over 12 thousand US providers of live Christmas Trees who can deliver a local tree to your door. Fogel says although live trees can cost a bit more than cut trees, its a positive action most folks can take now to help offset their lifestyle related pollution.

Fogel: The artificial classic ones are not the environmental choice at all. Potted trees get planted each year. You don’t have to plant them in your back yard. A service like ours will pick it up and it will get planted by a parks department or a landscaper somewhere to grow old. And its something individuals can do as a response to climate change. They don’t have to rely on their government representatives, they can plant a tree that cleans their air pollution.

Lambe: What we’re finding is the simple act of planting a tree is inspiring for individuals. Its inspiring for families, its a uniting event and it really represents the spirit of the Holidays.

Holiday shoppers … can consider the gift of a live tree at Christmas. For more information about how trees benefit the climate, please visit us at

Our ancestors knew that trees help sustain diversity and support culture. Today, trees are an inexpensive and effective way to help offset climate change.

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