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The Environmental Option: Should You Choose a Fake Christmas Tree?

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Posted January 22, 2019

People are beginning to wake up and realize that if we don’t start reducing our environmental impact now, the future might not look so good. If you’re looking to make a change in how you do things, one of the factors you’ve possibly already examined is your plastic use. Plastic isn’t ideal, and most environmentalists already know that we should avoid it as much as possible. Does the same rule apply when the conversation is about artificial Christmas trees?

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All About Artificial Trees: Can They Be Environmental?

A Nielsen survey done in partnership with the American Christmas Tree Association found that 80 percent of American Christmas trees were artificial. People prefer artificial trees because they pay for themselves within a few years, and unlike regular trees, there’s no worry of pine needles getting all over the carpet. They’re also much more convenient to put up, and rather than having to go out and get a tree yourself, it will already be tucked away in a closet, waiting for the most joyous time of year to roll around again.

The negatives of artificial trees are the fact that most mainstream brands that you’ll find at any big-box store are made from plastic and shipped from China. While a fake Christmas tree can come with an environmental footprint, you must consider that you’ll be able to use it repeatedly. The negative of the artificial tree is also an amazing positive. It won’t break down. That means if you don’t put it in a landfill, it will keep fulfilling its purpose for a long time to come.

To make your fake tree more environmentally sound, you can commit to using it for at least 10 years, which experts estimate is the amount of time needed to equal out the water and energy use required to grow a live tree. Do even better and commit to using it for the rest of your life, possibly even passing it down to your children.

All About Real Trees: Are They Good for the Earth?

It might seem that a tree is the most environmentally healthy option imaginable. Real trees are completely biodegradable and can even be ground up and used as garden mulch, although that might be a task reserved for the high-level green thumbs in the audience. To many people, a real tree feels more authentic. For some families, going to pick out a Christmas tree is a beloved tradition, and it can be difficult to give that up.

The biggest environmental impact of real Christmas trees is their use of water. In drought-ridden areas of the world, such as California, tree orchards can put a strain on the local water supply. These are factors we will need to consider with a growing population. There are also other issues as well, like the fuel you use to drive and pick up the tree each year and the pesticides used by some tree farms.

The Verdict: Are Artificial Christmas Trees More Environmentally Sound than the Live Variety?

The bottom line is that an artificial Christmas tree is only bad for the environment if it ends up in a landfill. If you consider it an investment for the long term, it’s a sound option for your Christmas celebration. Environmental issues aside, a fake tree will also save you a lot of money. Real trees start around $75. You can get a fake tree of a similar size for a little over $100 if you shop around.

Sometimes, it’s not as cut and dry as using less plastic. As we wait on technology experts to utilize biodegradable materials that can replace plastic in the future, all we can do is make informed choices by weighing all the factors involved and choosing the route that stands to make the least negative impact.

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