Articifical vs. Real: Which Christmas Tree is More Eco-Friendly?

live christmas trees

Which type of Christmas tree – real or artificial – is more eco-friendly has long been a heated ecological debate. Both have environmental quandaries and knowing which one is best for your family can be surprisingly confusing. Here we break down the pros and cons of each so you can make a healthy and informed decision as to which type is right for your home.

The Lowdown on Artificial Trees

Most people think fake Christmas trees are inherently green simply because they are used year after year. While this is partly true (since they can last for years, some argue it’s better to purchase a tree once rather than every single year), the composition of an artificial tree can negate any sustainability it may have otherwise had. Most fake trees are made in China (approximately 85%), meaning they initially have a significant carbon footprint when overall transportation costs and resources are considered. Additionally, many fake trees are made with PVC, a widely used type of plastic dubbed “the poison plastic.” Harmful toxins are emitted during the manufacturing of PVC and PVC products can leach additional toxins into the air while used in your home.

Are Real Trees Better?

Lest you think purchasing real Christmas trees contributes to devastating deforestation, most live trees are actually grown at Christmas tree farms. So you won’t be further depleting a forest by opting for a live tree. However, since they are an agricultural product, pesticides are often used throughout the life cycle of a Christmas tree (though little typically remains by the time the tree is harvested).

Which Type is Best?

Environmentalists and consumers alike tend to agree live Christmas trees are a more eco-friendly alternative. Considered a sustainable crop, real trees are a renewable resource and don’t contain the non-biodegradable plastics most fake ones do. In addition, according to the National Christmas Tree Association, for every Christmas tree harvested, between one and three seeds are planted the following spring. To ensure your live Christmas tree is as green as it can possibly be, consider purchasing a live tree with a root ball, found at most nurseries and some tree lots. Once the holiday is over, the tree can be replanted in your yard. This does, however, require some forethought, especially if you live in a colder climate. Additionally, the tree should not be kept indoors for longer than a week. If that isn’t an option, purchase a live tree from an organic Christmas tree farm.

Source: Modern Eco Homes

Another advantage of using a real, live Christmas tree such as a pine tree, is the wonderful smell that the pine needles give off.  This Christmas try to use natural decorations- it’ll save money and reduce your carbon footprint.

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