North Carolina ranks second in the nation in Christmas tree production, but the laborers behind the greenery are often overlooked, as the North Carolina Farmworker Advocacy Network points out:
Make informed choices about your holiday decorations. If you celebrate Christmas, do you know where your tree comes from? In North Carolina, 5 to 6 million Christmas trees are harvested each year, bringing about $100 million to the state’s economy. Growing and harvesting Christmas trees requires a lot of work. The years-long process includes planting and shaping trees, cutting them down, packaging them and loading them into trucks for delivery. By the time they are ready for harvest, trees often weigh over 100 pounds. Migrant workers, many of whom come through the temporary H-2A visa program, do much of this grueling work. Various pesticides are often applied to Christmas trees throughout their growing cycle, placing workers at risk of exposure to dangerous chemicals.
NCFAN offers shopping suggestions:
- Consider purchasing a tree or wreath that was grown sustainably. Buying an organic or low-spray tree or wreath is one way to support tree farms that do not expose farmworkers to dangerous pesticides.
- Learn more about where your tree came from. Take the time to do some research on the living and working conditions of workers at Christmas tree farms that sell trees in your area.
- Choose an alternative Christmas tree. There are many creative ways to make a festive and sustainable “tree” from things already in the home.
- Recycle your tree. After the holiday, trees can be reused for mulch and many other purposes. Make sure to remove all decorations from your tree before recycling it.
For more on how to support farmworkers during the winter holidays, see NCFAN’s suggestions here.