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Social Justice

Earth Justice Ministry: February Column by Terry Wiggins, Earth Justice Ministry Co-Chair

On Trees and Tree-Hugging

We admit it.  We are tree huggers, those of us in the Earth Justice Ministry.   Trees are much more than sources of paper, lumber, beauty, shade, habitat for creatures – they are one of the world’s best ways of sequestering carbon, the most common of the greenhouse gases.  Here are a few of our seasonal thoughts about trees, inspired by post-holiday discussions.


Perhaps we are pleased with knowing that the church has an artificial Christmas tree, strange as it may seem – you may think that we would want to have real trees adorn our Sanctuary. In truth, we are not happy about the practice of cutting down trees, even if they are grown as a crop to be cut down, although we hear that tree farms may help to preserve open space.  And we certainly know that it’s not practical to bring a live tree into our Sanctuary.


The reason to say “perhaps” depends on the particulars of the tree – and if it doesn’t meet our criteria, please don’t tell us – we want to be able to enjoy what we have.  As our favorite advice columnist, Umbra Fisk, said in a December 2014 column, “Your typical poseur pine. . .  is made from PVC (aka vinyl, which spews dioxins and other polluting, cancer-causing chemicals when produced), with the possible addition of lead. It’s also very likely made in China, with a correspondingly swollen carbon footprint. And it’s doomed to sit in the landfill at the end of its life, chained to the Earth like the Ghost of Christmas Past.”

Too late to pass on the word, we heard of a wonderful way of disposing of your real tree:  Neighbors held a “mulchfest” in Washington Park in early January.  We hope to share news of such events in future years.




First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee  is a home for spiritual community, social justice, and intellectual freedom, active in Milwaukee since 1842. Unitarian Universalism is an inclusive denomination; core principles include recognition of the worth and dignity of every person; respect for the interdependent web of existence; and the goal of world peace, liberty and justice.

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