Should You Choose A Real or Artificial Tree?
It seems that the battle between real and artificial holiday trees is as old as the tree-decorating tradition itself. Artificial trees were invented in the 1930’s by a toiletbowl brush company. That’s right, the first artificial tree was not much more than an oversized, green toiletbowl brush. Thus, the debate between real and artificial trees began. Which is better for the environment: a synthetic tree made of who-knows-what that you may or may not reuse, or a real tree that must be cut down? It is clear that both choices have environmental pros and cons, so what’s a festive, eco-conscious homeowner to do?
Many people believe that because artificial trees can be reused, they have less of an impact on the environment. The truth is that an artificial tree has several environmental consequences even if you do keep it for a few years. According to the National Christmas Tree Association, the average household keeps an artificial tree for about six to nine years. As an environementally conscious consumer one may vow to keep it “forever”, but let’s be honest, one day it will probably end up in a landfill.
Most artificial trees are manufactured in China, therefore the transportation alone creates a huge carbon footprint. The cargo ships and trucks used to transport artificial trees from China to your local store – and then your car trip to the store to buy the tree – produce massive amounts of carbon emissions. Artificial trees are also usually made of materials such as petroleum, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), or polyethylene (PE). Polyvinyl chloride is not biodegradable, and since most artificial trees are not or can not be recycled, they will eventually make their way to a landfill to emit these hazardous carcinogens.
Of course even real trees come with their share of downfalls. You may have to purchase a new one every year, and a visit to the nearest tree farm would still produce some carbon emissions. Tree farms, however, are beneficial to the environment in several ways; they provide habitat for wildlife, remove dust and pollen from the air, and rid the atmosphere of carbon dioxide. If you think cutting down a tree to take home with you is contributing to deforestation, you can rest assured. Tree farms grow trees specifically for the holiday seasons – you can even purchase trees that are guaranteed to be grown responsibly – so you can be sure that forests aren’t surrendering their firs for your satisfaction. Additionally, tree farms replant about one to three trees to replace each one that is cut, so the environment is constantly benefitting from living, growing trees. Real trees are also 100% biodegradable. According to the Sierra Club, recycled trees are used to restore sand dunes, wetlands, and fish habitat, which limits the amount of waste ending up in a landfill and benefits new life.
So, according to Sierra Club Green Home’s research, real holiday trees win the battle of the most eco-friendly tree choice. If you’re planning on being a little more eco-conscious this season, go green (literally) with a real tree.
We know you want that authentic pine scent, but if you’re still trying to wear out your old reusable one before purchasing the real thing, don’t pollute your home with artificial air-fresheners that are filled with harmful chemicals.
…to your wallet
…to the earth
SCGH LLC, and their partners are not in any way or form endorsing or recommending any of the products or services listed by any of the providers or advertisers.
GreenCheck is a registered service mark of SCGH.
Sierra Club is no longer affiliated with or otherwise involved in this site or the business of SCGH, LLC and is not in any way or form endorsing or recommending any of the content, products or services listed or included on this site.
© 2013 SCGH. All Rights Reserved.