December Green Story

Which Christmas Tree is Greener?

Decorating a Christmas tree is a must do activity for the holiday season. But, which tree is greener? The artificial tree or the live tree? Here are some factors to consider as you choose the perfect tree this year.

Decorated Christmas Tree

Decorated Christmas Tree

Probably the biggest advantage of artificial Christmas trees is their longevity. You purchase a tree just once and it can be reused for years. Contrast that to a real tree that you have to purchase and replace year after year and that can add up to hundreds of dollars saved over the life an artificial tree. The key is to reuse the artificial tree as much as possible.

In 2009 the environmental firm Ellipsos of Montreal found that “an artificial tree would have to be reused for more than 20 years to be greener than buying a fresh-cut tree annually.” If you already have or plan to purchase an artificial tree maintain it in good condition by cleaning it and storing it in its original box during the off-season.

Artificial Christmas trees, however are made from petroleum-based, non-biodegradable plastics like PVC (polyvinyl chloride) and other metals and glues making them un-recyclable. According to the National Christmas Tree Association, 85% of artificial Christmas trees are manufactured in China, which means they have to travel a very long way, increasing our carbon emissions.

Live natural Christmas trees however are harvested from tree farms that tend to be within a few hours from the retailer which greatly reduces carbon emissions from transportation. Tree farms are able to produce a sustainable product since one to three seedlings are planted to replace the tree that was harvested. These trees also remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere replacing it with oxygen. One acre of Christmas trees is estimated to produce enough oxygen for the daily needs of eighteen people.Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 1.06.43 PM

Unlike artificial trees, live trees can be recycled when they’re chipped and made into mulch that can be used in landscaping and gardening. You can recycle your live, natural, undecorated tree by attending Keep Dalton-Whitfield Beautiful’s annual Christmas Tree Recycling event at The Home Depot in Dalton on Saturday, January 9, 2016 from 8 am to 1 pm. Participants will receive a seedling or a packet of seeds to plant at home. Visit to learn more.

My personal favorite however is the real, live, natural Christmas tree with the unmistakable pine scent that reminds me of previous holiday festivities. But, I’ve come to the conclusion that choosing a tree is very personal. At the end of the day you need to choose the tree that will work best for you.

Liz Swafford is the Recycling and Education Program Coordinator for the Dalton-Whitfield Solid Waste Authority.  Contact her at 706-278-5001, or e-mail



December Feature Story

On Thursday, June 25th I went to what would be my final OB/GYN visit. I was 39 weeks and 4 days pregnant. That evening we put our 2 year old son to bed around 8pm and at 1:00 am I had my first real labor contraction. At 1:45 am I woke my husband to let him know I was in labor and at 2:15 am my husband, Justin, called our babysitter.  Then we made phone calls to family and a final phone call to my best friend around 2:23 am. Then I had a sudden urge. I yelled for my husband but he was right next to me. My water broke. My husband tried to get me in the car immediately, but I insisted we couldn’t go anywhere because we didn’t have a sitter for our 2 year old yet.

Then I reached down to find the baby crowning. My calm husband called 911 and explained that I was in labor and we would not make it to the hospital. This is where the story gets really ODD.  Kelly Azbil, our dispatcher, was comforting, confident, strong, and encouraging. The strength in her voice was never wavering as she walked Justin through, step by step, how to deliver our child safely while she simultaneously dispatched help. Friday, June 26, 2015 2:27am our baby is born. It’s a girl! Megan RewisKelly stayed on the line with us until help arrived, singing our praises and ensuring us everything was going to be okay.

Samantha Spawn and David Freiberg were the first two emergency responders to arrive and examine us both. Then came a firefight
er, Kent Cochran, whose smile I will always remember. The paramedics, Adam Freeman and Aaron Gaddis, arrived and loaded the baby and I into the ambulance and gave us both thorough checks. Miraculously, we were perfectly fine.

This crew… Our crew…. Our angels… They were incredible! I am so glad that God put them in our path and that they chose Dalton to pursue their careers. They chose this to be their home and to give of their time, talents, and treasures. They are the epitome of ONE DEGREE DALTON and I am honored to share THEIR story. They are a huge part of the happy ending, or should I say beginning, to our story! Kelly, Samantha, Adam, Kent, David, and Aaron, you’re all incredible people. Thank you for your service to this wonderful community!