This debate has me divided each year. Do we get a real or artificial Christmas Tree? Lot’s of factors go into the decision: convenience, joy factor, tradition and the impact it has when Christmas is over. There is a magical feeling heading to Christmas Tree farms, finding the right tree and cutting it down, hauling it home, enjoying that beautiful scent and then trying to remember how to dispose of it. Then I feel guilty doing it over the next year doing the same thing. Is it better have a fake tree?
Someone talked to experts about it, and the answer is, it depends. But in general, REAL trees are probably a little better.
Fake trees CAN cause less of an impact if you use them over and over again. A study in 2018 found that after five years, it starts to even out. But it’s not that simple, because real trees also have benefits.
Most of the fake trees we buy come from China. So on top of the whole “made of plastic” thing, they’re also shipped over here on boats that use up a ton of fossil fuel. Then they’re transferred to trucks that also run on gas.
The real trees we buy tend to be grown on nearby farms, so they don’t have to travel as far. And those farms also create a lot of jobs. Around 15,000 different farms grow Christmas trees in the U.S. and employ over 100,000 Americans.
Growing all those trees DOES use up a lot of resources. They take an average of seven years to grow and need a lot of water. But like all trees, they help clean the air while they’re growing. So it’s not all bad. And a lot of cities compost old Christmas trees now, so they’re less likely to end up in landfills.
In general, the experts say real trees might have a slight advantage. But fake trees aren’t that much worse for the environment as long as you keep using them. Ideally, you’d only buy one and never replace it.