Fake v. Real. The debate over which Christmas tree is “greener” continues, but when you look at the evidence, there’s only one good option (unless you suffer from horrible allergies). The Eco Women conclude that a real Christmas tree is the best choice. Here are 10 reasons why:
1. You can buy a real tree locally. Tree farms employ 100,000 people in America. Most fake trees sold in America are manufactured in China and sold in Big Box stores.
2. Real trees don’t cause air pollution. An acre of Christmas trees supply enough oxygen for 18 people. Fake trees are made in China, a country with notoriously poor environmental standards. Tack on the transportation emissions, and real trees again trump fake.
3. Christmas trees are a renewable resource. Fake trees are made from plastic, which is derived from petroleum, which is a nonrenewable resource. Those discarded plastic Christmas trees don’t get recycled either. But a real tree is renewable, you can always grow more.
4. There’s no substitute for the smell. Oddly, a lot of people get fake trees, then spray air freshener or burn candles to synthetically copy the smell of a real tree. Talk about a waste. A fresh-cut balsam smells wonderful without any extra support.
5. Real trees are recyclable and shouldn’t end up in landfills. When the holidays are over they make excellent habitats for birds and rabbits in your back yard. Some places use the trees for soil erosion barriers or fish shelters in ponds. Most municipalities will collect old Christmas trees curbside and chip them into mulch. Many places also offer an exchange of a tree seedling for an old Christmas tree–although every Christmas tree harvested gets replanted by the industry. Most tree farms plant one to three trees for every real one cut.
No one recycles an old artificial tree. Once the branches get broken or bent beyond repair, there’s no recycling or reusing them–they end up on the trash heap alongside everything else headed for the local dump.
6. Fake trees come packaged, real trees do not. Bringing home a real tree is a zero-waste endeavor.
7. Real trees are chemical free. Some folks argue that the Christmas tree industry is a bad thing, polluting the environment with pesticides and herbicides, but Enviro Girl grows firs and pines on her property and can attest to how hardy a species they are. The amount of chemicals required to grow a “healthy” Christmas tree is pretty minimal when compared to the amount of chemicals the average homeowner sprays on their lawn. And tree farms have a vested interest in NOT using chemicals–or using them as sparingly as possible–because they are cost-prohibitive.
Fake trees? They’re made out of landfill-clogging polyvinyl chloride (petroleum-based PVC). They’re entirely composed of CHEMICALS, with some metal parts.
8. Sure, a real tree lasts for only one season (unless you buy a live, bundled tree and plant it after the holidays). Artificial trees never “last a lifetime,” disputing any claim that they are somehow gentler on the environment. (Enviro Girl challenges anyone who has used the same artificial Christmas tree for longer than 10 years to step forward. Anyone?)
9. Fake trees are less work and less mess since you don’t have to water them and they don’t shed their needles. Yet you do need to clean, store and assemble a fake tree, so are they less work?
10. Real trees provide plenty of habitat for woodland creatures to enjoy–a Christmas tree farm is unquestionably more environmentally friendly than a Christmas tree factory.
The best choice for an environmentally friendly Christmas tree is a real tree, not a plastic tree, a local tree, not an imported tree. Period. (And there’s no law saying you have to decorate a fresh-cut balsam fir, you can decorate a potted tree of any kind.) Tell the Eco Women: what type of Christmas tree do you decorate?