The ethical considerations of Christmas trees

Written By: - Date published: 4:20 pm, December 7th, 2008 - 12 comments
Categories: articles, International - Tags:

Christmas is coming. We want to feel like we’re part of the sustainable, clean and green in action movement. So what sort of Christmas tree should be twinkling? Leo Hickman of the Guardian asks these questions and more:

Aren’t they just a colossal waste of money? Can such a decadent waste of resources be justified in our (supposedly) eco-aware times? (Such cries have been heard for centuries Oliver Cromwell banged on about the “heathen tradition” of decorated trees, but he had his own all-together-different reasons.)

And then we buckle and relent as the children at our feet whimper and plead with us to get one. So what are the options for those of us who still want to follow this once-pagan yuletide tradition?

His options include buying a real tree (checking for sustainability, proximity and lack of herbicides); buy a plastic tree (which lasts for how many years before the children/cat/dog anihilates it’s “leafy greenness?); decorate an exisiting plant (my personal favorite – adds colour to the garden too, just don’t put the presents out unless you have trustworthy neighbours) or the “do nothing” option (not so easy for child-zoned households).

But don’t forget our own Kiwi Christmas tree, the Pohutakawa, in all this. Whether you have one of these in your garden, down the street, in the park or at the beach – do you really need anything more?

Finally if you want a lesson in why you should always be careful of leaving those glinting lights on in a tinder-dry tree watch this:

12 comments on “The ethical considerations of Christmas trees”

  1. Allan Speedy 1

    What a whining tosser.

    Leave our Xmas trees alone.

  2. Bill 2

    A large dead branch stuck in a bucket hung with compost scraps (twirly fruit and veg skins can be quite catching) interspersed with bits of colourful consumer packaging ( a fair few tobacco packets contain vibrant primary colours for eg).

    Green as.

    And a little bit of colourfully cynical politics to boot!

    Maybe even stick ‘Mr Oh so politically correct Hickman on to for composting afterwards)

  3. bobo 3

    Why not convert to Jehovah Witness… , keeps all that Christmas carbon to a minimum.

  4. Felix 4

    Christmas is strictly for the stupid.

    It bores and pains me to watch supposedly intelligent adults get swept up in the most banal and pointless celebrations conceivable. How am I supposed to maintain friendships with these people? I can’t respect them.

    I wouldn’t mind if it was fun but it’s not, and in your heart you know that. If you play along you’re a sucker, plain and simple.

    If you do these christmas-type things you have zero self-respect. Grow up. Find some dignity. Do you not know how ridiculous you look?

    Good morning everyone. It’s going to be a great day.

  5. higherstandard 5

    Quite right Felix – much the same as all those other banal and pointless celebrations like Eid-ul-Adha, Diwali and Hannukah.

    Then again perhaps you are just a negative numpty who doesn’t like other people having fun and choosing to celebrate as they wish.

  6. Lanthanide 6

    You can kill two birds with one stone, so to speak.

    Buy a real live tree in a pot, ie one that has not been cut down, and then once you’re done with it go plant it out in the forest somewhere.

    You get your tree inside the house, as well as helping to replenish the forests.

  7. Georgene Bramlage 7

    Thank you, Dancer

    For your mention of my article about Pohutukawa – New Zealand’s Christmas Tree one of my favorite trees.

    I hope you all take time to celebrate as you wish, and enjoy the beauties of N.Z.

  8. Felix 8


    No-one bugs me for two months every year about what I’m doing for Eid-ul-Adha.

    No-one has ever tried to coerce me into spending a dull afternoon drinking in the sun surrounded by annoying brats to celebrate Diwali.

    And no-one has ever told me I’m negative for seeing Hannukah as a waste of my time.

    If any of that happens, I can assure you I’ll be adding those to my list of boring, time-consuming, energy-sucking rituals I want no part of.

  9. higherstandard 9

    Well tell the people who are bugging you to go away then Felix I sure they’d be more than happy to leave you alone.

  10. Felix 10

    Alright. Go away HS and stop bugging me 😉

  11. Phil 11


    Just for kicks, can you rename Felix as “Grinch”?

    Bah Humbug!


    If you’re looking to avoid the Christmas mania altogether, I have been told that Portugal is a good place to go, just avoid it during easter…

    [lprent: I tend to share his opinions. I’m notoriously anti-social if there is a choice between code and being social. Standing practice around my family is to order me somewhere, force a few drinks between my lips, and then I will relax because programming with a blood alcohol level is unproductive. Now should I discuss my attitudes on shopping (any shopping)?]

  12. Felix 12

    Portugal eh? Can’t really afford to get there by Christmas.

    Probably just stay home, hook a car battery up to my mailbox and hide in the bushes with a handycam filming the results.

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