Christmas Trees: Real vs Artificial. Which is More Eco-Friendly? (the shocking answer)
Decorating the Christmas tree is a holiday tradition. Many of us have memories waking up Christmas morning to gifts under the tree. A beautifully decorated tree signals the beginning of the Christmas season.
But how can Christmas be celebrated sustainably? Which is more eco-friendly, a real or artificial tree? The answer may surprise you.
First, let’s briefly look at artificial trees. Artificial trees are mainly made of plastic and metal. Most are manufactured in China, which means that a lot of resources are required to ship them abroad resulting in a large carbon footprint. Even though they are made of plastic they are nearly impossible to recycle. One benefit of artificial trees is that they are able to be used year after year.
Real Christmas trees are grown on farms. Think of real Christmas trees as a crop (like fruits or veggies) which are grown for the sole purpose of being harvested. Christmas tree farmers usually plant 4 or 5 seedlings for every tree they cut down. A 5 to 6 foot tree can take up to 10 years to grow. While the tree is growing it provides habitat for local wildlife and absorbs carbon from the environment.
Once Christmas is over you can use your tree for mulch or your community might have a tree recycling program.
The most eco-friendly tree is the live tree with the root ball attached. It can be replanted in your yard if you have the space. Or you can purchase a potted tree. The potted tree won’t grow as tall as a regular tree but you can keep it in your home or plant it in your yard.
So which is more eco-friendly? A real or artificial Christmas tree?
A real tree! With a live tree with the root ball attached being the most eco-friendly.