Real vs Artificial Tree – which is better for the environment

For many of us, dressing the Christmas tree is a family affair. Some families have their trees up and dressed on December 1st, while others have the tradition of dressing the tree the night before Christmas. Either way, there is generally a tree involved (unless like me, you had the odd year, here and there, where you decorated a fan) and the question we are hearing more and more… Real vs Artificial Tree – which is better for the environment?

Can’t I recycle my artificial tree though?

No, no you can not. When making an artificial tree more often than not it will consist of PVC, aluminium, and steel. These elements are fused together, which then makes the tree not recyclable so it has to go into landfills. 

I use my artificial tree year after year, doesn’t that make it eco-friendly?

Studies have estimated that for an artificial tree to actually be sustainably viable you would need to use the exact same tree for up to 20 years to even come close to being as sustainable as a live tree. You need to take everything into consideration, not just the end result; the process of making them and shipping them around the world, as China is one of the leading manufacturers.

Chopping down all those pine trees couldn’t be good for the environment?

From my research, it’s not the same as walking into a rainforest and chopping down an ecosystem.

Christmas trees (pine trees) are farmed for that exact purpose. In most instances, it’s in soil that would otherwise be unusable for other types of crops. 

But what about the birds and the bees?

It is true that they (pine trees) provide habitats for local animals, birds and bugs of all sorts, and they also absorb carbon dioxide. At first glance yes, it appears bad but it isn’t necessarily bad. Once they’ve been chopped down and decked out in tinsel (#wedontdotinsel) and everything else, in our homes, the farmer starts all over again. So the crop will once more absorb carbon dioxide and provide habitats for wildlife. 

So which is the most environmentally friendly – Real or Fake?

In my opinion, the best way to go is with a family business that grows their trees sustainably. You could always try a non-traditional tree like a book tree or a felt tree even. The most important thing is that you do what works for you!


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