A fifteen cent tax on Christmas trees has been approved by the U.S. federal government in order to fund a marketing program to promote them. The reported reason for the tax and ensuing marketing effort is a decline in the purchasing of live Christmas trees and an increase in sales of artificial ones. Two million dollars is expected to be generated by the new Christmas tree tax.
Is isn’t live trees generally that are used in homes for celebrating Christmas, it is live trees that are cut down. It seems a little peculiar the federal government would want to promote cutting down live trees because they provide more benefit alive than dead. Clearly though, the idea is to support the natural Christmas tree farm industry. Some tree farmers are content with the government plan to promote them, and others don’t believe it is necessary, when they can do their own marketing.
The federal government typically doesn’t do such a good job at promoting things, because government workers generally aren’t effective at marketing – it is the business community where you find the best marketers. So taxing tree farmers to fund a government marketing program doesn’t sound especially wise.
Currently too many natural Christmas trees wind up in landfills shortly after use, or add to air pollution when they are burned. It will be curious to see if the government Christmas tree marketing references disposal of trees, or just purchasing them.
Artificial trees are made of polyvinyl chloride which is a petroleum-based plastic. When the are produced, chemicals such as dioxin, ethylene dichloride and vinyl chloride are released at factory sites and they can be harmful to workers. Fake trees might also release lead dust, which can be harmful to children, and is not healthy for adults either.
The best choice is simply to not buy a Christmas tree at all, but the centuries-old cultural practice is emotionally engrained and very popular, so it isn’t likely many people will abstain. The other choice is to buy a healthy tree with a functioning root system for planting, to allow it to live for many years. If you are feeling especially generous, you can donate a small amount of money for planting many trees in places where they are very much needed through Heifer International.
Image Credit: Андрей Ю. Вуколов