“I remember last Christmas. My baby girl was way more into the wrapping paper and the boxes than she was any of her gifts. And I had a blast sticking bows on her head and giving her a gypsy-like headband of ribbon. Oh, did we get some great photos of that ‘first Christmas’. Last year was actually the first Christmas that I have ever had a real Christmas tree. It smelled so wonderful! Growing up, my family always had the big, artificial tree that my dad would haul up from the basement every December.” – SafBaby Co-Founder Samantha Fox Olson
- Artificial trees are often made from PVC which produces cancer-causing dioxin during manufacture. PVC is a nonrenewable and non-biodegradable resource.
- Artificial trees are finished with fire-retardant chemicals. Not the best of combos when added to a closed home with the heat on.
- Remember to not use tinsel or spray your tree with fake snow as tinsel and white trees cannot be recycled.
Safe Alternative to a PVC Christmas Tree in Your Home
“A better choice is a live potted Christmas tree, available at farmers’ markets, gardening centers and some tree farms. It can be planted outdoors in the yard, or donated to a school or park (check if your parks department will accept donated trees). Or, before discarding your cut tree, check with your department of sanitation or public works, which may recycle cut trees into mulch or stack them to help prevent coastal erosion, as is being done in coastal areas such as New Jersey.
Cut Tree, Certified by Coalition Farm Members
This Coalition Group of Christmas Tree Growers agrees to farm using methods that are conscious of the environment and to submit their farms to an ongoing series of independent physical audits that verify compliance with strict certification program standards.
Certifying their farms is the grower’s way of communicating with the public in such a way that the consumer can know with confidence that the Christmas tree they are buying for their home was grown in an environmentally friendly manner. Look for the certified tag on Christmas trees grown by Coalition farm members at your local area Christmas tree retailer or tree lot.
To find a certified organic tree in your area, Green Promise has listed tree farms including low-spray and Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Christmas trees.
Recycling Your Christmas Tree
Dangerous Toxins Ornamenting Your Tree
Have you ever considered what is on your Christmas tree? Well, the ornaments themselves are just one of the things that may be of toxic concern if you have a baby/toddler in the home. Please know that many ornaments have lead-based paints that decorate them. Don’t let babies play with or put any ornament anywhere near their mouths.
Other Safe Alternatives to Lead Ornaments
Non-toxic wooden ornaments available at www.woodcrafter.com
If you have the time to make your own ornaments, here are some ideas:
- Paint pine cones (smells so good) with non toxic paints
- Hang small holiday cards. Reduce-Reuse-Recycle!
- Cut star, Christmas tree etc. shapes from felt or paper
- String popcorn
Also, please make sure the lights are out of reach so children don’t touch them since they contain lead. If they do touch them, make sure you wash their hands.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published November 28, 2008 and has been updated for accuracy.