Real or Fake Christmas Tree?

Written by Robin Stanton, Media Relations Manager.

We love trees. They clean our air and water, store our carbon, and lend a hand in creating many of the things we depend on, from our homes and furniture to our beloved Louisville Sluggers. So we should never, ever cut one down for the sole purpose of decorating our living rooms for the month of December, right? Actually, wrong.

“If you choose a real Christmas tree over an artificial one, count yourself among the ‘greener’ holiday makers,” according to James Schroeder, Eastern Washington program director for The Nature Conservancy.

Here’s why:

30 million trees are harvested annually for Christmas, out of the 350-500 million growing on tree farms across the country. As each year's trees are harvested for sale, there are more than ten times as many left standing. A tradition of buying real trees keeps tree farms in business – and their lands covered in forest.

Conversely, about 10 million artificial trees are purchased each year. 90% are shipped to the U.S. from China. Artificial trees are not recyclable. In fact, most are made from a kind of plastic called polyvinyl chloride (PVC) which is derived from petroleum.


This year, the Cle Elum Kiwanis will be selling trees they collected from Conservancy land in the Central Cascades Forests. Money raised by the Kiwanis goes to support youth activities in the Cle Elum region. Christmas tree collection on Conservancy land is for non-profit groups by permit only, not for individuals. However, the neighboring Okanogan-Wenatchee Forest sells permits for individuals and families to collect trees.

Want to make your already green choice even greener?

·        Visit a cut-your-own tree farm instead of purchasing a pre-cut tree. That way, you’ll know for certain that it wasn’t shipped in from outside your home state.

·        Use LED lights—they’ll use as little as 10 percent of the electricity and last for years.

·        Pass up the non-recyclable tinsel and make garland out of popcorn and/or cranberries.

·        Keep using heirloom ornaments year after year, but if you’re still looking to fill some space on the tree, you don’t have to go the store-bought route. Try turning holiday cards or your child’s artwork into ornaments. Or go for a walk to collect pine cones or seashells and decorate with glue and glitter.

·        If you are planning to purchase ornaments, choose wooden ones over plastic. When you travel during the year, pick up a painted wood ornament from the destination you visit. Soon you’ll have a collection of ornaments that brings back memories of trips with friends and family.

·        Recycle your Christmas tree whenever possible. Many areas now offer a post-Christmas curbside pickup, and the trees are typically chipped or ground to use in mulch. Look for information specific to your area in your local newspaper.

A Snowy Holiday in Our Central Cascades Forest

Photographs by Lara Gricar, the Central Cascades Community Coordinator

The snow is here, just in time for the holiday! Enjoy these great photos on our 48,000 acre forestland acquisition in the Central Cascades! Cle Elum Ridge looks so peaceful. 


In Appreciation of Our Volunteers

Written and Photographed by Lauren Miheli, Volunteer Coordinator

I’ve been working as Volunteer Coordinator for TNC in WA for 2 years.  I tell all of my co-workers that I have the best job at The Nature Conservancy, and it’s true!  I was reminded of this on Dec. 1st, when we hosted a Volunteer Appreciation happy hour in our Seattle office.  About 30 volunteers and a dozen TNC staff members showed up to this low-key event to recognize and acknowledge the contributions of our volunteers.  It was a cold and dark evening, but the room was aglow.  When I looked around the room I was overwhelmed with gratitude for all of the talented, intelligent, caring, and hardworking people I saw around me.  People who all share a passion for our mission and who were excited to meet and connect with each other.  The room was a buzz with conversation, folks talking about what we do, how we can do it better, and putting their heads together about how we can get more people excited about conservation.

Beer, wine, sparkling cider and light appetizers were served while volunteers mingled to holiday music by candle light, with centerpieces and decorations arranged by volunteer June Landenburger, and a slideshow projected highlights from this year’s volunteer events.  Melissa Garvey, Washington’s Deputy State Director, gave an engaging speech about the strategic direction of our work.  Fresh rosemary trees and Nature Conservancy swag were raffled off as prizes.  The party was supposed to end at 7, but several volunteers stayed until almost 8 to help clean up and the conversation kept flowing.

The event was a delightful way to kick of the month of December and all of the holiday parties that will follow, and it was all in part to the wonderful people who were there.

Thank you to all of our volunteers, those who attended the happy hour, and those who couldn’t join us.  Your contributions make TNC a great place to work!

Learn about our opportunities to Volunteer!