Thursday, November 8, 2007

Real Tree vs. Fake Tree: Round 1

Ok, this week I'll get some ranting out of the way so we can concentrate on positive things the closer we get to the Christmas season.

The rant subject is the "debate" over whether a fake tree is a better eco-choice than a Real Tree. Quite frankly, it befuddles me that there is still a debate at all and that there are consumers out there who still think a manufactured product is better for the environment than a natural product. But, alas, there are.

Part of the problem is the misleading, and sometimes outright false, information put out there. Here's an example: this Sears ad for a fake, plastic tree describes it as a "Just Cut Balsam." What?!? It's not a balsam, and it wasn't just cut. It was manufactured in a factory somewhere, most likely China, then shipped here. You can post a comment to Sears about this silly, deceptive product description right here.

Here's another example: in the November/December issue of Mother Jones magazine, there's a chart comparing real trees and fake trees. The author is Celia Perry. Under the real tree column, in a category called "Dirty Business" it says "produce oxygen, but require tons of pesticides and herbicides." Now that second part is a totally false statement. They do indeed produce oxygen, as all plants do, but do NOT require tons of pesticides. No source is cited, and phone calls to Ms. Perry went unreturned. Mother Jones' tagline says "Smart, Fearless Journalism" .... really? Is that why writeds jsut make stuff up?

I was talking with a reporter last week who said a retro aluminum tree had these words on its packaging: "Better for the environment because no tree has to be cut down." Of course, it comes in a cardboard box ... the hypocrisy is astounding.

Here's the best example - an article from the Hays Daily News in Hays, Kansas. In it, a fake tree seller is touting the lower fuel consumption required to transport fake trees from Asia if you calculate that over 15 years of using the same tree. Uh, relaly? That doesn't take into account the fuel required to ship raw materials such as plastic and metal to the factory in the first place. Nor does it take into account the energy consumed by the factory itself. Nor does it take into account the fuel consumed to distribute the product from shipping ports to retail outlets throughout the United States. Recently a Christmas Tree farmer calculated fuel use to grow his trees. This is a farm in the Deep South, where mowing is probably required more than other places. He uses 600 gallons of fuel per year (both diesel and gasoline) to grow 14,000 trees. That equates to 5.5 ounces of fuel per tree per year. How many ounces of petroleum is used to make the plastic needles of one fake tree?

Plastic is a product we all sue, but many believe will need to be replaced soon. A recent article in Spirit Magazine said the U.S. uses 2 million barrels of oil every day to make plastic. That represents about 10% of the nation's total consumption. I found that interesting.

Well, to combat some of the misleading, and sometimes outright false, information that consumers are exposed to, we put together a simple comparison chart. You can access it from the front page of our Web site. I'm confident that sooner, rather than later, consumers will know the truth and know that the eco-friendly choice in Christmas Trees is a renewable, recyclable Real Tree grown on a farm.