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Stockholm’s marine life benefits from discarded Christmas trees

If we put on our thinking caps, many products deemed unusable could be put to productive use

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In Swede, Christmas (known as Jul) is celebrated throughout December and until St Knut’s Day on 13 January.

Just like in other parts of the world, Swedes put up Christmas trees with decorations. The exchange of gifts in many families takes place on Christmas Eve. But the highlight of the Swedish Christmas season is the Feast of St Lucy, celebrated during Advent, on 13 December.

Once the Christmas season is over, the Swedes take down their Christmas trees and discard them. Being environmentally conscientious, many ensure that the unwanted Christmas trees are used for productive eco-friendly purposes.

Christmas trees in Sweden are usually discarded in eco-friendly ways with no chemical impact on nearby surroundings. Old Christmas trees are used for lumber, insulation and fertilisation for the following year’s crops.

Christmas trees discarded in endangered waters enhance marine life.

In 2016, the national sport fishing association, Sportfiskarna, conceived an idea to benefit and rebuild the country’s endangered marine ecosystem. Environmentalists lauded it as an innovative idea.

Stockholm residents are encouraged to throw away their Christmas trees into the waters of Hammarby Sjostad to provide habitat for fish. Dozens are thrown away into Stockholm’s glacial waters.

Christmas trees placed at the bottom of ponds, rivers and oceans create new underwater habitats for the marine life. The prerequisite for this proposal was that all the trees collected are not sprayed with pesticides.

Since 2016, over 1,000 trees collected after Christmas have been dropped in different spots.

Trees are thrown off a boat into the waters of the Hamm Arby Sjostad industrial zone. There is not a lot of vegetation and these are really important habitats for fish to breed. It is difficult to get the habitat back to its pristine state, and this is a way of substituting what has been lost.

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Videos underwater of the submerged trees shot in past years show gelatinous clusters of fish larvae nestled in the branches.

Many Stockholmers are enthusiastic about finding eco-friendly solutions to reuse their Christmas trees. Stockholm’s initiative has expanded to other parts of Sweden.

Discarded Christmas trees may be considered a post-Christmas gift to Stockholm’s marine life.

People from other countries, like Malaysia, should follow Stockholm’s example and become more eco-friendly. If we put on our thinking caps, many products deemed unusable could be put to productive use.

Often, I give many things to my friend instead of disposing of them. He thinks of many innovative ways to reuse them or passes them to someone else who will benefit from them.

Think before disposing any product. We may help someone and simultaneously do our part in making Malaysia a more eco-friendly nation.

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

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Benedict Lopez
Benedict Lopez was director of the Malaysian Investment Development Authority in Stockholm and economics counsellor at the Malaysian embassy there in 2010-2014. He covered all five Nordic countries in the course of his work. A pragmatic optimist and now an Aliran member, he believes Malaysia can provide its people with the same benefits found in the Nordic countries - not a far-fetched dream but one he hopes will be realised in his lifetime
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