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  • Getting to Green

    An administrator pushes, on a shoestring budget, to move his university and the world toward a more sustainable equilibrium.

Trees and trees
November 28, 2012 - 8:16pm

OK, so I've been in a bit of a funk lately.  And my favorite Christmas decoration is the "Bah, humbug!" button my dame gave me years ago.  But I can still enjoy the occasional Christmas-related news item, especially if it has a sustainability twist to it.  Like this one does.

Turns out that, according to the research of St. Joseph's University (Philadelphia) biology professor Clint Springer, cutting a live Christmas tree each year is more sustainable than using the same artificial tree for six years running. 

Springer takes a number of factors (including allergies to tree pollen) into account, but concludes that if only greenhouse gas emissions are considered the series of six individual live trees has a 60% smaller footprint than a single artificial tree.  Which, if my back-of-the-envelope estimates are correct, means that you'd have to use the same tree for fifteen years before it breaks even in terms of carbon footprint.  Maybe some families (you know who you are) are frugal enough to use an artificial tree for fifteen years before replacing it, but I suspect they're in the minority.

Kind of puts me in mind of the research that proved that drying your hands on your clothes is more hygienic than using those electric hand dryers in public restrooms.  I'm not sure why.  (Actually, yes I am.)


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