Artificial vs. Natural Christmas Trees: Which is Greener?

 Both artificial Christmas trees and natural Christmas trees are environmentally friendly.
A new study by the American Christmas Tree Association highlights the ways that both artificial Christmas trees and natural Christmas trees are environmentally friendly, taking into account factors including tree origin, tree miles traveled and length of time the tree will be kept. In truth, both trees have green benefits. This Christmas, dig deeper into the Christmas tree debate to determine whether your family is best served by a natural Christmas tree or an artificial tree. 

Natural Christmas trees

When considering an evergreen Christmas tree, shop local to minimize environmental impact. As trees travel to consumers, more emissions enter the environment, impacting the air quality and the global climate. If you can visit a nearby tree farm or purchase a tree that traveled only a short distance, you'll use fewer emissions than with an artificial tree.

While farmed trees grow, they provide shelter for animals, introduce oxygen into the air, filter carbon monoxide and fix nitrogen in the soil--all environmental benefits. Consumers who feel guilty cutting down a tree can investigate plantable Christmas trees that can be planted after use or miniature evergreens that can be stored like a houseplant and used for holidays to come. 

While farmed trees grow they provide environmental benefits.
A recent study of trees grown in Quebec and bought in Montreal found that, over a six year period, natural trees had one-third the emissions of artificial trees manufactured in China and purchased in Montreal. These figures will be different if you're living in Reno and purchasing a tree grown in Quebec, so it's not safe to assume that natural trees are always cheaper. Additionally, many artificial trees contain PVC, which produced carcinogens. Artificial trees cannot be recycled and are not biodegradable, so do represent landfill waste. Natural Christmas trees biodegrade, nourishing the earth. Many municipalities offer tree-recycling programs that make eco-conscious tree disposal convenient for consumers.

Artificial Christmas trees

If you purchase a tree every single year and you cannot purchase locally, an artificial tree can be greener as long as you keep it for at least nine years. These can be more cost effective than traditional trees, which add up in cost when purchased annually. However, if you purchase an artificial tree and then trade it in for a newer artificial tree every three to five years, you lose the benefits. 

An artificial tree can be greener as long as you keep it for at least nine years.

Because artificial trees require less care than natural trees, you can also save a small amount of water by choosing one. They also work well for people who want trees, but will not be home to take care of them.

Both types of trees can pose a choking hazard for children or pets, which may be tempted to eat real or artificial needles. With both, you'll consume more electricity should you decorate with Christmas lights. Use a timer to limit resources consumption during the holiday season.

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