Thursday, November 19, 2009

Fresh Country Air by Matt Reese

Everyone knows that we are far too dependent on foreign oil in this country. Of course, one of the first things we think about with regard to our oil is the amount of driving we do, but we often do not think about all the oil that goes into the many other plastics and petroleum-derived products we use every day. From those little plastic windows in envelops to the toys we buy for our children, petroleum is almost everywhere around us.
The fact that Ohio’s consumers want to stop using so much petroleum was made clear in a summer consumer attitude survey conducted by the Ohio Soybean Council. The survey found that 88 percent of Ohioans would prefer to purchase bio-based products instead of traditional chemical or petroleum-based products.
The survey randomly sampled 600 registered voters providing a good statistical representation of Ohio consumers. And, despite the rough economy, nearly 60% of those surveyed said they would be willing to pay up to 10 percent more for the bioproduct over the price of the petroleum-based competitor.
With the holiday shopping season here, there are a myriad of bio-based products out there for great, domestically produced, petroleum-free stocking-stuffers of every kind. To find out more about holiday bioproducts, you can go to, and, or simply visit a nearby Christmas tree farm. Real Christmas trees are probably the oldest holiday bioproduct around — beautiful, fragrant, and 100 percent petroleum free.
At a time when Americans are placing more emphasis on environmental stewardship than ever before, a growing number of people are discovering the numerous environmental benefits of choosing a real Christmas tree.
“Some people still don’t understand that real Christmas trees are far more environmentally friendly than the artificial alternative,” said Dave Reese, owner of Kaleidoscope Farms in Mt. Cory and president of the Ohio Christmas Tree Association. “At the time they are harvested, most real Christmas trees have been producing oxygen, sheltering wildlife, conserving soil, improving water quality and absorbing carbon dioxide for seven or more years.”
Christmas tree farms around the state are planting hundreds of thousands of trees every year, and with those trees come a host of environmental benefits. The vast majority of Christmas trees purchased in this country come from a farm where growers plant one to three seedlings for each tree harvested. Close to half a billion trees are currently growing on U.S. tree farms.
Then, after the season, Christmas trees are recycled for use as mulch, fish and wildlife habitat and for controlling stream bank erosion. In sharp contrast, plastic, petroleum-based artificial Christmas trees never biodegrade, and after their useful life will likely go to a landfill.
Along with being a much more environmentally friendly option, real Christmas trees offer customers a chance to visit a farm and see those benefits on display.
“Have you ever seen where an artificial Christmas tree comes from? Chances are they don’t give many tours at those Chinese factories,” Reese said. “Tree farms are great places to visit for their natural beauty and the chance to spend some time outdoors in the country.”
As consumer interest in bio-based products continues to grow, there will undoubtedly be more new-fangled bioproducts wrapped up beneath the Christmas tree this year than ever before. People will be cleaning for holiday gatherings using soy-based cleaners, gifts will be shipped in bio-based packaging materials and, when it gets cold, people will de-ice their windshields with a bioproduct.
There are a lot of people spending a lot of money to find new ways to utilize bioproducts to make all kinds of new products. Many of these efforts are taking place in Ohio and, in the process creating jobs and bolstering the state’s economy. These types of products are fantastic and rightfully deserve the consideration of consumers. But, with enviro-concious consumers tripping over themselves to find the latest bio-fiber shirt or earth-friendly coffee pot for a gift under the tree this Christmas, let’s not forget about the holiday bioproduct that has been around since the 7th Century. Real Christmas trees, after all, are naturally superior.
For more information, or to find a Christmas tree farm near you, visit

Matt Reese writes for Ohio’s Country Journal and lives in Baltimore, Ohio. For questions or comments, please contact him at For more columns, visit

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