Image courtesy of trekkyandy
In keeping with the spirit of the season - and our past coverage of North Carolina's water scarcity problems - we had to pass on this timely story detailing the effects the drought - the state's worst on record - has had on the state's Christmas tree population. To sum it up in a few words: it was another boom year for artificial trees:
To put it bluntly, it has been a rough year for the state's 1,600 growers; in addition to the crippling water shortages, they have also had to deal with the effect of higher temperatures - a struggle that resulted in the deaths of close to 40% of saplings. The U.S. Drought Monitor, located in Lincoln, NE, estimated that two-thirds of North Carolina is in an "exceptional drought" condition, the worst category.
"North Carolina, the largest US seller of cut trees last year for the holiday, may contribute to a second straight season of declining sales, the National Christmas Tree Association predicts.
More consumers are skipping outdoor lots and buying artificial trees. Some who choose real ones are paying higher prices after the drought pushed up farmers' costs."
Growers have had to take a hit to their bottom line this season to stay competitive with artificial trees as they've been forced to shell out larger sums for fertilizer, water and labor. The number of Christmas trees sold in the state has fallen in the last few years, from a recent high of 32.8 million in 2005 to this year's projected 28-30 million; sales of fake trees, on the other hand, have been brisk - and, unlike real ones, can be reused (it also helps that you avoid dealing with brittle, shedding needles).
Purists will undoubtedly scoff at the notion of buying artificial for convenience sake, arguing that it just wouldn't be Christmas without a real tree. While one can't deny the festive spirit a Christmas tree lends to any occasion, the greenest option might just be to skip out on one entirely (or, at the very least, consult our handy guide).