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Artificial or live: Environmentally responsible Christmas trees

By December 18, 2013 No Comments

Many of you overachievers might have already put up your Christmas tree. However, some of us slackers haven’t.

See, my family has always had a real tree. It’s never been about what is greener but more about the tradition of going to a tree farm (or in some off years Home Depot) and hand-selecting our tree. It’s about the wonderful fragrant smell, and the feel of the live tree. It’s about putting on mittens and hats and drinking hot cider. It’s about sticking our heads out of the window praying the tree doesn’t fall off the car on the way home.

However, there are years like this that we are three weeks into December, it’s freezing cold, and we frankly just have not had the time to go find a tree. It’s years like this that I ask myself, “Should we just get a fake tree and be done with it?” (gasp!)

So, this brings me to my question: Which is more environmentally responsible – buy a fake tree or cut down a live one?

Well, there really isn’t a definite answer. It all depends on various factors such as, how long will you use your artificial tree or how far you drive to purchase your live tree.

Artificial tree haters will tell you they are bad for the environment because they are made from PVC and lead, can’t be recycled, and sit in our landfills. Opponents of live trees will tell you the carbon footprint of the miles you drive year after year to get a live tree, pesticide use, and fire hazard of dry needles outweigh the benefits.

So, bottom line, there are pros and cons to both options. Do your research based on your lifestyle. If you are going to keep the artificial tree for at least 7-10 years than environmentally speaking there isn’t a significant difference in impact. If you plan on purchasing a new artificial tree every few years, then the carbon footprint would be much better with a live tree.

What is the greenest option of all? Purchase a potted tree or a tree with roots intact that you can enjoy for years to come.

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Image credit: Living Green

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