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Inspirational Wednesday: An Interview with Brad Major of Carbon Sync

I fell in love with Vancouver’s newest Christmas Tree Rental company because they are so much more than even that (which is a pretty cool thing in and of itself). So, just how green can your Christmas Tree be? I did an interview with Carbon Sync‘s founder Brad Major to find out.

1. How did you get into the Christmas tree business?

I started Carbonsync because our family owned a property that was pretty much our own 3 acre personal park. I have always had a love for trees and nature but the property was threatened by the construction of a new highway. So I planted 1000 Douglas Fir trees in pots, with the idea of renting them out and planting them on the property. Hundreds were planted on the property and then they were paved over by the highway. It was a hard lesson to learn but it was the start of Carbonsync.
2. What do you do the rest of the year?
I’m a certified arborist, so we manage properties with trees in the Greater Vancouver area. Currently we are trying to develop a wood waste recycling system that produces carbon rich soil for growing vegetables, make and sell some beautiful wood furniture, and some wood for fuel. I also have a full time job as a firefighter in the city of Burnaby. I run Carbonsync on the side, mostly because I’m passionate about trees!

3. Where does the bio-char end up& How do you offset the driving around?
The process of making biochar in its self makes carbon offsets or credits. 1 tonne of biochar is pure carbon and makes 3 carbon credits or 3 tonnes of CO2 equivalent. That carbon is sucked out of the air by the growing tree, and we put it back into soil. Its the reverse of burning fossil fuels.
Our carbon footprint comes from burning diesel fuel to deliver and pick the trees. I estimate the whole project will burn about 500 liters of diesel. That works out to 1100 kg of CO2 emissions.
We have partnered with a Vancouver company called Diacarbon, which is a local biochar producer. The plan is to have a Christmas tree chip to raise money for the Burnaby Firefighters Charitable society. The tree chippings from that will be processed by Diacarbon. From that I estimate 5 tonnes of tree chippings will be processed, the result will be 2 tonnes of biochar. That works out to a net reduction of CO2 emissions of 4900kg CO2e-. That the early estimate anyways!
Also the trees are grown on a farm in Langley BC, which is close to the city so that helps keep the footprint low.

4. What’s the carbon footprint of the average Christmas tree?  Of the average Canadian Christmas?
The footprint of a Christmas tree is two sided. Because a tree is 50% carbon. The footprint for each tree is the fuel it takes to get the tree inside your house and the fuel to take the tree away, plus the tree itself. For us, because we recycle our trees into biochar, we can deduct the carbon in the tree from our footprint total.
The footprint of the Canadian Christmas varies alot. Its complicated because most of the goods we purchase our made out of plastic from China. The start of it comes from raw bitumen in the Alberta oilsands, shipped to China, refined and processed, and sold back to Canada.
It makes me happy to rent real, beautiful, locally farmed trees!

5. What’s your one wish for this holiday season?
My one wish for the holidays is that people enjoy their time with friends and family and worry less about acquiring plastic disposable products that are bad for the environment.

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