The Great Debate: Artificial vs. Real Christmas Trees 🌲

'Tis the season for festive debates, and among them, the sustainability face-off between artificial and real Christmas trees. First let's unwrap the sustainability pros and cons, then get to the science and then The Golden Rules.


Artificial Trees: A Plastic Predicament


Everlasting Enigma:
Artificial trees are the evergreen champions of reuse. With proper care, they can last for many seasons, reducing the need for repeated tree procurement.

Deforestation Deterrence:
By opting for artificial, you avoid contributing to the direct felling of trees, easing the strain on natural forests.

Consistent Carbon Footprint:
Despite production emissions, the carbon footprint of an artificial tree can be offset by its multi-year usage, making it a potentially greener choice in the long run.


Petrochemical Predilection:
Most artificial trees are crafted from PVC (polyvinyl chloride), a petroleum-derived plastic that takes centuries to decompose, adding to landfill woes. The PVC used to make these trees is brand new, virgin pastic – no recycled content here!

Manufacturing Muddle:
The production process of artificial trees involves resource-intensive methods and overseas shipping, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions.

Finite Lifespan:
Even the hardiest and well-cared for of artificial trees won't last forever, and once they've reached their end, the only option is landfill where they will likely outlast Ol' Nick himself.

Real Trees: Nature's Festive Fling


Renewable Resource:
Real trees are grown on farms specifically for holiday harvest, providing an eco-friendly alternative to forest depletion.

Carbon Capture Crusaders:
During their growth, real trees absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen, acting as mini carbon sinks before they're adorned with ornaments.

Biodegradable Beauty:
Once the season ends, real trees can be turned into mulch or compost, returning naturally to the earth.


Tree-Trekking Troubles:
The transportation of real trees from farms to markets involves fuel consumption and emissions, especially if sourced from far away.

Harvest Hassles:
Some argue that cutting down trees, even from managed farms, contributes to deforestation concerns and disrupts local ecosystems and the soil


The Sustainable Science

Ultimately which is more sustainable, from a full lifecycle carbon perspective, depends on the following factors:

  1. How many times you use the artificial tree
  2. How far both types of tree had to travel to get to you
  3. What you do with the tree after you no longer want it


The Golden Rules

Which brings us to the golden tinsel rules of Christmas tree-purchasing

  1. Purchase a locally grown or made tree if possible
  2. If you purchase an artificial tree, commit to using for at least 6-9 years. And conversely, if you think you’ll be buying real trees for 9 years or more, consider an artificial tree instead
  3. Avoid sending your real tree to landfill! Find a way to mulch or compost it instead

Even Better

Rent a tree! This service is becoming increasingly common around the world. Or make one from waste, found objects and a lot of love.

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