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Real Tree Versus Fake Tree – Which is Better for the Environment

Jen Jacobs

Why should you buy a real tree? Why should you buy a fake tree? Which is better for the environment? What will the majority of us will have in our living rooms this Christmas?

It’s an annual debate between a lot of people. Which kind of Christmas tree should you buy? I like fake trees because they’re low maintenance, it’s usually a one time purchase and the “needles” hurt a lot less when you step on them at 4:30am. Some people like the real tree because of family tradition, the nice smell and they’re supposed to be better for the environment. Both valid arguments and there really is no easy answer, so I thought I would check out both sides.

There are about 400 million Christmas trees growing on tree farms across the country right now. They’re all taking in carbon dioxide and generating oxygen. In order to get a nice Christmas tree, it needs to be grown. That means years of watering and tying up land space. You also have to drive to the tree farm and then drive it home. A study by the American Christmas Tree Association found that one of the biggest contributions to global warming in this debate was trucking the trees from the farms to the lots and then to homes.

Artificial trees are made of plastic which is a petroleum product. They also contain PVC. The making of PVC creates hazardous by-products. The tree itself is just fine, but most of them are manufactured in China, the by-products may not always be disposed of safely. Artificial trees are not biodegradable so when you do end up throwing it out, they will likely sit in a landfill until the end of time. One study found that fake trees have a carbon footprint three times larger than a real tree, but a fake tree can be used year after year after year.

The study also found that in our current economic state, most of us are planning on using a fake tree this Christmas season. Just over half say they’ll make the one time investment of an artificial tree and almost two thirds say that’s because it’s cheaper than spending the money for a real tree year after year.

So, in summation, it’s like asking someone on a diet if they’d rather have cheesecake or a doughnut. Neither one is good, it’s just a question of which does the least damage. Which one do you have?

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