Christmas Trees: Go Real or Fake?

The debate over whether real or artificial trees are better for the environment is as much a holiday tradition as spiked eggnog. This controversy, like many, comes out of misinformation. Read on to learn the facts and make your own decision.



The debate over whether real or artificial trees are better for the environment is as much a holiday tradition as spiked eggnog. This controversy, like many, comes out of misinformation. Read on to learn the facts and make your own decision.

Some opponents of real Christmas trees take the stance that cutting down the evergreens ruins forest eco-systems. Take comfort in knowing that trees for sale in lots are not cut down from the wilderness. Few, if any, trees come from forests. They are instead grown on farms specific to the purpose of raising Christmas trees. These farms exist in just about every state in the union, so buying a fresh cut tree actually supports local farmers.  When you’re done with the tree, it can be composted as a means of recycling. On the not-so-eco-friendly side, these trees are not usually grown organically, so pesticides (like Round-Up) do pose a problem for the environment and make the trees a potential toxin for pets.

Fake trees, on the other hand, have the sustainable benefit of being reusable. But, they are made from plastic polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and toxins are released when PVC is manufactured. Frighteningly enough, many fake trees have been found to have lead contamination. When your fake tree has run its course, recycling is not an option and it will add to landfill waste.

The choice is yours, and a majority of the country (60% according to a ABC News and The Washington Post poll) does use artificial trees. However, the environmental benefits seem to be stacked in favor of the real deal–especially if you find organically grown trees.

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