US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Have a green Christmas

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When I first imagined a 108-foot Christmas tree and 40 other smaller (just 50 feet maybe?) trees adorning St. Peter’s Square and the rest of the Vatican, I couldn't help but wondering if Pope Benedict wasn’t that green after all. How old must a 108-foot Christmas tree be? How many acres of Austrian forest were decimated for the pope?

But Benedict is one step ahead of me. This year, the largest tree will be recycled into children’s toys and furniture, reports Zenit News agency.

We all like to see, feel, and smell our faith and the symbols of it, especially at Christmastime. Luckily, we don’t have to have a tree so big you can create furniture out of it to have it all and still be green. Here are some ideas the reindeer would like:

Don’t kill a tree for the piney smell of Christmas. You can order a potted tree, one that is still living and growing, and keep it for a few years as a houseplant or replant it into the ground. Some websites include,, and (visit their site to see the top 10 reasons why this is a good option).

That might be a better option for next year, but if you have a tree this year, follow the pope’s example and recycle your tree. Many local programs make trees into mulch and up to 93 percent of Americans recycle their trees, according to, which has a number of ideas for green holidays.Finally, the National Christmas Tree Association says to stop feeling so guilty about your tree. They point out that 40 to 45 million trees are planted each year. Real trees are not toxic (besides some pesticides, which the association says aren’t on the actual tree), recyclable, local, renewable, and carbon neutral. Fake tree, on the other hand, are made in China, have toxic chemical on them, aren’t recyclable or renewable, and their production releases more toxins and carbon.

So you can just say “Bah humbug!” to those who don't like your beautiful tree.

Other green ideas for the holidays: LED lights, recycled wrapping paper, alternative wrapping paper (fabric, old paper bags, newspaper, or magazines), less gifts, fair trade gifts, gifts made out of recycled products.

How do you keep the season green?