Are artificial Christmas trees better than real ones? | The Tylt
Are artificial Christmas trees better than real ones?
Both sides of this debate often cite sustainability in defense of both real and artificial trees. But in reality, each tree can be eco-friendly depending on how you use it. Los Angeles Times' Jessica Roy details the environmental footprint of each tree:
To grow real Christmas trees, you need dirt, water, pesticide, herbicide and fungicide. Then you need gasoline to harvest and transport them, as well as the human labor to do all of that.
To manufacture an artificial Christmas tree, you need PVC plastic, steel and aluminum, plus cardboard for the packaging and the resources to ship the trees from Asia, where most of them are made. The total amount of raw materials needed to manufacture an artificial Christmas tree is roughly equal to the amount needed to make an upholstered patio chair.
On a one-to-one basis, a real tree requires considerably fewer resources to create and get to the customer than an artificial tree, said William Paddock, the managing director of WAP Sustainability Consulting in Chattanooga, Tenn., who oversaw the peer-reviewed study. But if you plan to reuse your artificial tree, which most people do, the environmental impact eventually tips in favor of the artificial tree.
Both real and fake trees have the potential to help or hurt the environment, depending on what you do with them after the Christmas season comes to a close.
Most people say the smell of a real Christmas tree far outweighs any hassle that comes with setup and clean up once it is gone. What's a couple of pine needles when you can have a month's worth of that amazing fresh balsam filling your home? Nothing compares.
But the artificial tree camp has a counter:
Is simple clean up really what Christmas is about? One blogger outlines a few key arguments for why you should always choose a real tree over a fake one:
Most artificial trees come from China, while we have thousands of Christmas tree farms right here in the US. Christmas trees are able to be grown in all 50 states.
Real Christmas trees are grown on farms like other crops and are replaced after harvesting. For every tree harvested, most farmers plant three in its place... In other words, you’re not 'killing' the tree by bringing it inside–they’re grown as ornamental crops. There is no deforestation. In fact, again, by buying a real Christmas tree, you’re actually contributing to more trees being planted.
Having a real tree in the house is safer. If a real tree should happen to catch on fire, the fumes would not be nearly as toxic as they would be from a fake tree. Although, an adequately cared for tree will not catch on fire easily.
Some say it goes beyond the clean-up. Artificial trees often come with lights already installed, and you never have to worry about your tree looking lopsided once it's in your living room.
After one particularly harrowing experience with a real Christmas tree and a mosquito infestation, NBC's Kavita Varma-White writes:
The next year, I spent several hundred dollars on my first, beautiful, faux tree. The fact that it was already wired with lights made me cry with joy. There would be no divorcing my husband over his crooked light-hanging!
That tree lasted me nearly 10 years, and even made the move cross country to Washington state. Each year, I’d set it up and marvel at how perfect the lights were, how it remained perfectly green, how 'real' it looked. At the end of each season, I’d pack it up—no muss, no fuss.