Fake vs. Real Christmas Trees: What’s More Green?
Whether you love rigging up a real tree in your house for Christmas or you prefer to just pull the fake one out of storage, everyone’s got an opinion on “Real vs. Fake” debate. Many people point out they love the scent of pine from a real tree, where others can’t stand stepping on pine needles for the next few months. However, when it comes to real vs. fake, which one is more eco-friendly? Is it the fake tree that can be reused for years, or is it the naturally grown tree?
The Fake Christmas Tree
While many would assume that reusing a fake tree year after year would be the most eco-friendly alternative, the makeup of most artificial trees might surprise you. Fake Christmas trees are generally made out of PVC (polyvinyl chloride), a petroleum-based plastic which is both nonrenewable and a huge pollution factor. In fact, according to one Kansas State University researcher put it, thinking that artificial trees are eco-friendly is “an urban myth.”
However, in 2010 a study was conducted on the environmental impact of fake trees vs. real trees, which uncovered that a family would only need to reuse their tree for at least 4 years to generate a carbon footprint smaller than that of a household that purchases a real tree every year. Additionally, disposal of both real or fake trees only accounted for less than 0.1% of a person’s annual carbon footprint.
The Real Christmas Tree
While it might be easy to think that cutting down trees on a yearly basis would be harmful to the environment, most real trees are actually grown on farms, much like any other crop. In short, they wouldn’t be grown if there wasn’t a demand for them. And you can forget about federal forests getting the chop — that’s heavily regulated with an eye for conservation and wildlife.
Additionally, many municipalities also offer Christmas tree recycling programs, though they’re not available everywhere. It may require extra time and effort on your part to find an environmentally smart way to dispose of your Christmas tree, but it’s not impossible. Check out some ideas from MentalFloss.com.
Picking the right tree for you ultimately comes down to what’s right for your apartment, as there are pros and cons on both sides. Whether you opt for the fresh scent of pine and a recycling program or intend to use your fake tree for at least 4 years or more, you can feel good that you’re making an environmentally sound choice.