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The Great Christmas Tree Debate

Which is more environmentally friendly: a real Christmas tree or a fake one? Experts agree that the benefits of real trees make them a better choice.

Facts on Fake Trees

  • The first fake Christmas tree was made by a company that made toilet bowl cleaning brushes in the 1930’s.
  • Fake trees are made with PVC, which is a petroleum based product that is non-biodegradable plastic. Some older fake trees even have lead in them, which can end up in your home as the tree disintegrates over time.
  • Harmful toxins are emitted in the making of these trees, which affects the workers and their communities.
  • 85% of fake trees are imported from China, so the transportation footprint is higher for a fake tree too.
  • Although they can be used year after year, fake trees cannot be recycled and will sit in a landfill for thousands of years.

Facts on Real Trees

  • Trees are not taken from forests, but rather from tree farms that are sustainably planted. 
  • Typically, 90% of the trees on the farm remain each year.
  • While they grow for approximately 8-10 years, Christmas trees clean our air and water, provide habitat for wildlife and can even increase wildlife species diversity in adjoining woodlands.
  • Most Christmas trees are “recycled” by being chipped into mulch, which is used in landscaping and eventually breaks down into soil. 
  • One downside is that many farmers use pesticide on their trees, which pollute our water and air.

A Third Option

A third option is to buy a potted tree (with roots intact) that can be planted after Christmas. Note that the tree cannot be inside for more than 7-10 days or it will come out of it dormant state and will be more likely to die.