In this age of climate change and zero-waste goals, many people wonder which is the best eco-friendly choice: a fake or a real Christmas tree?

A feature image for a blog post about fake vs real Christmas trees.

The short answer, according to the David Suzuki Foundation is to use a real Christmas tree. They argue that it avoids the horrible plastics of artificial choices. They recommend using a potted tree or getting one from a reputable tree farm.

You may agree or disagree with their choice of which to use, and what you choose is probably going to depend on your personal circumstances. Both options have advantages and disadvantages.

Check out the information below and make a decision that fits what you need to do to enjoy your tree and holiday time, and that will allow you to consider the environment, too.

The Benefits of a Real Christmas Tree

There are several benefits to getting a real Christmas tree, especially if you source one from a tree farm or garden center, and don’t just go out in the woods and hack one down.

The advantages of using a real Christmas tree include:

  • Avoiding the plastics used to manufacture artificial trees.
  • Making the trip to pick out your tree is a great family activity.
  • Enjoying a real tree and its scent is an excellent way to reduce stress. It’s a form of ecotherapy.
  • They don’t give off harmful chemicals.
  • Reputable tree farms can be good for the environment.
  • A real Christmas tree is biodegradable after the holidays are over.
  • They don’t need to be stored away for the next year.
  • Growing, harvesting, and selling real trees provides jobs and supports the economy.
  • The shipping of artificial trees adds to the carbon footprint.

The Disadvantages of a Real Christmas Tree

Some of the disadvantages of using a real tree during the holidays include the needle shed, not being able to put it up as early, remembering to water it regularly, and transporting it to and from your home.

Not everyone is going to be in a position to deal with the demands of using a real tree. If you can’t and need to go with a different option, don’t feel guilty. There are two sides to the coin.

The Benefits of an Artificial Christmas Tree

Even though a real Christmas tree does have ecological advantages, there are some benefits to using an artificial tree for the holidays, too.

Some of these advantages include:

  • The cost can be less if you buy a quality artificial tree on sale and use it for several years.
  • It’s more convenient and doesn’t require maintenance once it’s up and decorated.
  • Transporting an artificial tree can be much easier, especially when they’re still in the box.
  • You don’t have to deal with disposal for several years.
  • They’re better for people who are sensitive to the molds that can grow on real trees.
  • If the artificial tree is made from flame-retardant material it may be safer.
  • If it has pre-lit lights, you don’t have to buy more or fuss with stringing them.
  • There’s less cleanup than with a real tree, and they keep their shape better.

The Disadvantages of an Artificial Christmas Tree

Some of the disadvantages of an artificial Christmas tree include the fact that it’s made from plastic, you have to store them, and they may give off harmful chemicals. Plus, it’s practically impossible to recycle an artificial Christmas tree.

Which Choice Is Better for the Environment?

So, since both options have advantages and disadvantages, the question still remains: which is better from an eco-friendly point of view?

It probably comes down to which type of Christmas tree works best for your circumstances. Since they both seem to have some ecological benefits, you will have to weigh the factors that suit your situation best.

You may not have a vehicle to transport a real tree, and need to order one online. Or, you may not have enough storage and prefer to go with a small potted tree to keep afterward.

The main thing is to do what you feel leaves the smallest environmental footprint you can.

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