X-mas Trees >

Every year after Christmas, the residents of San Francisco throw their Christmas trees into the gutters outside their homes, and every year I feel disgust in the pit of my stomach when I have to step around the piles of discarded trees.

To me, they are a monument to our wasteful society, a reminder of our disregard for nature and a symbol of what Christmas really means to many people: a time to consume.

I try to imagine the incredible resources and energy spent growing, cutting, transporting and selling the millions of dead trees we Americans consume every year. And then the money people spend on them: $30, $50, $100 a tree. And imagine all the time and effort people spend taking one home and decorating it, revering the dead tree as a symbol of their faith, feeling pride in its presence. They gather around it with family and friends, celebrating the love they feel for their god, their holy day symbolized by a dead tree which at one time was alive and smelled beautiful, cleaned our air and gave us life by its very presence. Then, the dead trees, once adored, are dragged down the stairs and dumped into the gutter as garbage.

How could these endless piles of lifeless trees not make people self-conscious and ashamed of the drive to waste, to consume and discard? To me, these photographs look like crime scenes: the dead trees stuffed into plastic bags or hacked to bits or burned beyond recognition. They are also a reminder of my own wasteful habits, which I struggle to justify.

There is no excuse for the way all of us waste, as if the Earth's resources are endless.

©2020 Cammie Toloui