Real v. plastic Christmas tree

As Christmas is approaching, you might be wondering what is the greener option for your Christmas tree. Here comes the traditional debate artificial trees versus real trees !


I started writing this article convinced that an artificial tree would be better for the environment because it could be reused time and time again. Well … I have been surprised by the result of my search.

Artificial trees

2014-12-03-ScreenShot20141203at11.57.11AM-thumbMost people, like me, would be surprised to find out that in many ways, artificial trees actually do more harm to the environment than cutting natural trees

The main raw material for fake Christmas trees is PVC (polyvinyl chloride). It is a petroleum-derived plastic and is both non-renewable and polluting. Furthermore, PVC production results in the unhealthy emission of a number of carcinogens, such as dioxin, ethylene dichloride and vinyl chloride.

It also requires a lot of energy to create and transport the fake trees.The American Christmas Tree Association says its own study found that it took a minimum of 10 years of use before a fake tree became better for the environment than a real one, at least in terms of carbon emissions.

Real trees


As the New York Times reported, real trees have an environmental advantage over artificial ones.

Here are some of the arguments:

  • The living trees generate oxygen, help fix carbon in their branches and in the soil and provide habitat for birds and animals.
  • Christmas tree farms also help preserve farmland and green space, particularly near densely populated urban areas where pressure for development is intense.
  • After the holidays, real trees can continue to serve a purpose. New York City, for instance, offers free curbside recycling for trees, which are turned into compost. The city’s parks department also provides a free mulching service for trees at several locations after the holidays. In 2009, nearly 150,000 trees were composted or mulched in the city.
  • Lastly, with real trees, you have the option of purchasing from a local, family farm, while an artificial tree is manufactured by a large corporation overseas.


Both natural and fake trees have an environmental impact. Enjoy your tree, whichever one you prefer, but remember that the greener option is not to buy any !

One thought on “Real v. plastic Christmas tree

Add yours

  1. Professor Klaus Lackner, a scientist at Columbia University’sEarth institute,is an artificial tree capable of remoting
    co2more efficiently than its natural counterpart.
    synthetic trees looking like huge posts with hundreds of horizontal slats-like window blinds-hanging off them.
    These would be 1000times more effective in collecting co2 than a real tree.
    Some people say“but it’s important to separate out the concept from the technical details.“
    from pre1 grade step test text Obunsha/


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