Green Space: Deck the Halls With Real Trees and LED Lighting

Consider this: most artificial trees are made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a petroleum-derived material that isn’t recyclable and which studies show is harmful to human health.

Published December 5, 2013 6:42 PM
2 min read


By The Conservation Committee of the Rye Garden Club

Consider this: most artificial trees are made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a petroleum-derived material that isn’t recyclable and which studies show is harmful to human health. Eighty-five percent of artificial Christmas trees sold in the U.S. are manufactured in China. So, along with buying an item made in a fossil-fueled factory, artificial trees also require the burning of an enormous amount of fuels to be transported from factory to buyer. Sealing the debate in favor of real trees, beware that some artificial Christmas trees have lead and other additives in their make-up to add malleability to the PVC.

Whereas, if you buy a Christmas tree directly from a tree farm, once your tree is cut, a new one will be planted in its place. Before being cut, these trees have produced oxygen and sequestered carbon dioxide. Check out to find local tree farms. If you can’t go to a tree farm, try to buy your tree from a seller who sells organically and/or locally grown trees. Visit

After Christmas, make sure to bring your tree curbside for city collection. It will be mulched with other green waste and help to make compost for future plantings.

To do the most for the environment, buy a living tree in a pot, and, after Christmas, plant it outside. Make sure your tree is one that will thrive in this area, and only keep it inside for a week. Otherwise, the tree that should be dormant at this time of year will “wake up” in the warmth of your home and be unfit for post-Christmas planting.

Even though over 30 million Christmas trees are cut down each year for the holidays, a natural tree is the way to go.

Are LED Christmas lights that much better than standard ones?

LED (Light Emitting Diode) holiday lights are more expensive than the old-fashioned incandescent strands we’ve been buying for years (at Home Depot — a string of 100 LEDs will cost you $24, while the same length traditional bulbs is only $9), but the investment may be worth it. Studies show that LEDs use up to 95 percent less energy than incandescent. Over a 30-day period, lighting a strand of 500 incandescent bulbs will cost you $18 in energy costs, while the same number of LEDs will only run you 19 cents. Solar LED strings are also now available for your outdoor lighting needs. Also, LEDs last longer than their traditional counterparts. On average, a well-taken care set of incandescent lights will give you four to six years of use. LEDs will last ten or more. If you’re thinking about changing to LED lights, these details highlight the great benefits of making the switch. Hire an electrician if you need help setting up new lighting fixtures in your home.

So, what can you do with old lights? Even if they’re broken and tangled, you can donate them for the recycling of their copper, glass, and plastic components. Mail to The Refining Company,
Holiday Light Recycling Program,
373 Nesconset Highway
#229, Hauppauge, NY 11788.

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