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How Green Is Your Christmas Tree?

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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 apparent 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 making 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 vast 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 for feeding other plants.

christmas tree real

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, and 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

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 could be better. They can easily be stored and used year after year. Plus, you will not have to pick up dried pine needles from the floor every day.

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?

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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



  • Michael Higgins ,

    Richard, what about taking 25-30 million real Christmas trees out of the environment that are busy sucking in CO2? What is the cost of that? PS. Global Warming is a hoax.

  • Mark VanGoethem ,

    Michael Michael Michael much of this land would be in pasture , or corn and beans if not Christmas trees , so think of this , 7 years to grow an average tree….. so lets go low and say 25 million a year . That works out to 175 million trees planted that wouldn’t be there if there was no real Christmas tree market… and they are replaced every year so as to be ready in 7 years from know .. As well they smell great in the house.

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