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Real or Fake Christmas Tree – What Is The Sustainable Choice

Looking for something to talk about this year at your office Christmas party, try this. What is more sustainable, a real Christmas tree or an artificial Christmas tree? This year more than any other year you will be able to strike up a spirited conversation. The answer, while immediately obvious to many is much more complicated than it sounds. There are many contributing factors for the correct answer and often it is going to depend on circumstances. Below are factors to consider when you make your choice.

Real Christmas Tree

According to the National Christmas Tree Association (bet you didn’t know there was one of those) 25 -30 million real Christmas trees are sold each Christmas. The large majority of Christmas trees are grown on around 15,000 farms across the U.S. These farms employ approximately 100,000 people. These trees grow in almost every state so the concept of farm to living room for your tree can work. These trees can be chipped into mulch after Christmas and be used for feeding other plants. Some live trees are used in the home and then replanted in yards after Christmas. This gets tricky due to temperature differences so check this article out if you decide to try this.

Most likely you will drive to purchase your tree, you will have to dispose of the tree as well, and repeat this each year. Real trees are more expensive than artificial trees over time and pose a fire hazard.

Artificial Christmas Tree

The ease of buying an artificial tree today is very enticing. They even come pre-lit with LED lights now that change color with the click of a button. For any Dad who has spent a Christmas day putting together an adjustable basketball system, pre-lit sounds fantastic. You can purchase these on Amazon and many are eligible for Prime shipping. No driving, use the same tree year after year, what more could you ask for. They can easily be stored and used year after year. Plus, you will not have to pick up dried pine needles from the floor everyday.

Artificial trees are a great choice until you need to dispose of them. Then, like plastic bottles they remain in landfills for a long time. Often these trees are not made in the United States and there is a big environmental cost to shipping them from other countries.

So what’s the answer?

The real tree comes out on top. Most experts agree you will have to keep your artificial tree for more than 18 years to overcome the carbon footprint issues of transportation and eventual disposal. That is a long commitment and it is hard to imagine we would take care of the trees that long. Because the real tree can be reused immediately for mulch makes this the better choice. You can improve on this by purchasing your tree from a local farm or make sure it was grown in your state. Be sure to dispose of it at a facility that makes mulch and you can have a guilt free Christmas when it comes to your tree. If you enjoyed this post please consider subscribing or follow me on twitter @H2oTrends


Richard Restuccia

Richard is a water management evangelist. He believes passionately in water efficiency and sees the financial and social benefits far too often to keep a secret. Richard is a spokesperson at industry events and on the Hill to provide direction and insight on landscape water management best practices. Richard puts his words into action through service on various boards and committees. He served on the Irrigation Association’s Board of Directors. Richard also writes for other publications and is an award winning contributor to Lawn & Landscape Magazine. In 2014 his efforts were recognized with a “Leadership in Landscape” award. He has a great interest in the supply of clean water for people in developing countries and as an outdoorsman, spends his free time running, swimming and surfing.


John Hurley commented on 05-Jan-2017 01:20 PM 
Personal taste but I've always enjoyed a real tree for the scent!

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