Going Green, An Ongoing Series

green christmas


Hopefully you have your Christmas tree up and glowing by now.  (If not, I won't judge.... I don't have one up)  I have to ask though... do you have a real or fake tree?  You always hear the debate on which is better for you and the environment but do you really know any of the answers?  I've been doing some research and this is what I've come up with.

*aren't you so happy you have someone like me in your life to do all the work for you?* 

Little known fact: fake Christmas trees were first created in Germany in the 19th century.  They were made of goose feathers that were painted green and the trees were intended to prevent deforestation.  At that time, they were invented to help the environment unlike the ones today that are made of metal and plastic and shipped from China.

Pros and Cons of Having an Artificial Christmas Tree

Of course, the convenience factor of not having to go out each year and lug it home is probably the biggest reason most people opt for a fake tree.  Also, not spending the money comes into play too.  Not having to water the tree or worry about the pine needles being lodged into your feet are bonuses as well.  

But, many experts agree that an artificial tree might actually be worse on the environment than getting a real tree.  The footprint that a plastic tree causes are much greater than the one a a real tree does.  When you hear plastic you think, recyclable.  Not the case with fake trees.  To make polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic, you need petroleum.  This is a non-renewable, carbon-emitting resource.  Not only can PVC be extremely harmful to the body, there is also a release in greenhouse gases during their manufacturing, processing and shipping.  

Pros and Cons of Having a Real Christmas Tree

For some, it is a tradition to go out every year and cut down the family Christmas tree.  Approximately 33 million real trees are sold in North American every year and luckily 94% of those are recycled.  Not only does real tree fill a home with it's wonderful scent, the Christmas tree industry employs over 100,000 Americans.  A single farmed tree absorbs more than 1 ton of CO2 throughout its lifetime.  With more than 350 million real Christmas tress growing in U.S. tree farms alone, you can imagine the yearly amount of carbon sequestering associated with the trees. Additionally, each acre of trees produces enough oxygen for the daily needs of 18 people.  In order to ensure a healthy supply of Christmas trees each year, growers must use sustainable farming techniques.  For each tree harvested, one to three seedlings are planted the following spring, ensuring a healthy supply of trees.

Of course there are some definite downfalls to the live Christmas tree industry.  Since they are farmed agriculturally, this means repeated applications of herbicides, fertilizers and pesticides have been applied during their lifetime.  Also, depending on where you live, real Christmas trees might have traveled hundred of miles to get to the lot you are buying them out of significantly impacting the environmental impact associated with travel.  However, a tree trucked from a couple states away is still traveling thousands of miles less than one from overseas.


So, you take the good with the bad in either case but personally I think a live tree is much better than a fake one.  Something I would love to do is purchase a live tree with it's roots in tact and keep it potted.  Of course it would need to be moved in during the holidays and out afterward... and then eventually need to be planted but I do like the idea of using the same tree and watching it grow with any children you might have in your family.



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Megan Brown, SEO Marketing Specialist.  Learn more about Megan


#1 By Jason Lyvers at 12/20/2012 8:45 AM

Very good post, I didn't know all the details about real trees, and have always preferred what I considered the 'ease' of a fake tree, but haven't taken all the pros and cons into consideration. I would say that you've given me something to think about for next Christmas.

#2 By Arnold Properties at 12/20/2012 0:18 PM

Thanks, Jason! In all honesty, I didn't realize how bad fake trees were until writing this post.

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