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Fir tree: a custom that smells of ecology

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If it crystallizes the impatience of children every year, the tree can be much more than a symbol of rejoicing. Well chosen, it leaves a negligible ecological footprint and can even be a positive gesture for the planet.

Véronique Deiller

State of the art

If one had to remember only one symbol of the Christmas holidays, it would surely be the Christmas tree ... And yet, the Christmas trees do not really have the wind anymore. stern. According to the newspaper Le Monde, in 2007, only 18% of French households had perpetuated the tradition. However, our natural Christmas tree can be an asset to the planet. "Well chosen, a real fir tree has a very limited impact on the environment, recalls Elisabeth Laville, author of Life in Green and A diet for the planet (Ed Pearson.) Moreover, grown locally, it can even contribute to reducing the greenhouse effect. "

The articifiable fir, for its part, plays a paradoxical role. Its longevity would, a priori, be a rather harmless good for the planet. By reusing it every year, we would at the same time decrease our waste production and the ecological footprint of a tree that we would have bought each year (water for cultivation, transport, etc.). However, "the plastic fir, from the petrochemical industry and whose provenance is unknown is very far from being ecological.We will still be impossible to trace in what social and environmental conditions it was created, what impacts it could have on the health of kids playing around, "she continues. Here again, everything is a question of choice.

Finally, the decorations, which adorn our homes and our Christmas tree, also have an imprint. First element involved: the light garlands which, left lit for long hours, are very energy-consuming. But also, Christmas balls, table decorations and other ornaments, true trend objects, now renewed every year, or almost.

What alternatives are available to us?

It's good for the Christmas tree that the ecological footprint of Christmas seems the easiest to lighten. The explanation: whatever our choice, there are now benevolent solutions for the planet. For Elisabeth Laville, "we must not be obsessed with the right thing, but rather try to minimize the impact of the product we want to buy".

His advice:

- In case of preference for artificial trees, give priority to recyclable or reusable creations s found in some big brands (aluminum, branches, etc.) and keep them as long as possible. Today, an artificial tree could be kept almost 15 years old and yet, it is often thrown after only 2 or 3 years.

- Take care to check the provenance of a natural fir tree. The ideal: locally grown trees, especially in the Morvan Nature Park, which ensures the use of ever less polluting cultivation techniques.

- Coupler purchase of fir tree and solidarity: a few major retailers and associations have set up operations to help the poor, like the "Sack" of Handicap International.

- Once the holidays are over, put the fir tree in the dump, rather than on the public road. In large cities, like Paris, it is also possible to leave his tree in some squares where they can be retired to make compost.

- Keep Christmas decorations as long as possible to avoid producing additional waste. For new purchases, think of natural or fair trade decorations, which can now be easily purchased online.

- On the garland side, prefer LEDs - light-emitting diodes - which consume about 80% less energy than conventional bulbs. If possible, equip your Christmas installation with a timer, which will allow the lights to go out at the desired time and will avoid, again, consuming too much electricity.

Psychonauts commit themselves:

Anne-Marie, 36, has found an original solution to avoid throwing away her Christmas tree every year:

"I had the chance to meet, a few years ago, a horticulturist who offered me a sustainable alternative to the Christmas tree: the potted tree.I was initially surprised by this initiative but we soon realized the interest of this purchase: once the holidays have passed, we replant our tree in the garden, where it naturally takes root.We are fortunate to have a large plot and can "recycle" our tree and beautify our garden every year " .

At Eliette, 45 years old, it is rather the Christmas decorations that are the object of an ecological and family approach:

"Since my children are old enough to tinker, we have set up a new tradition we can not do without: we make our own decorations, and each year we do it several weeks before the holidays, which allows us to spend time together, soak up the Christmas spirit. each year, taking out our works from the previous Christmas, we return to our good memories, I do not buy decorations, but most of all, I share a special moment with my family ... "

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