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Real Or Fake Christmas Trees: What's Better For The Environment?

Real Or Fake Christmas Trees: What's Better For The Environment?

Published December 9, 2011 for CBS Boston


BOSTON (CBS) – Many families will spend the weekend decorating the tree.

It raises a good question: Which is better for the environment, a real tree or fake one?

A festive Christmas tree is a big part of the holiday tradition. This year, Kaylee Johnson is going back to a real tree.

But she cares about the environment and worries that buying a real tree isn’t the right thing to do, but guess what; she’s wrong.

Jeff Weigl of the Nature Conservancy says although 30 million trees are harvested every year at Christmas, it’s not as bad as it sounds.

Buying real trees keeps tree farms in business, and their lands covered in forests instead of development.

As for artificial trees, 90 percent of them are imported from China so overseas shipping adds to the carbon foot print — and they can’t be recycled.

Now maybe you just like the convenience of an artificial tree with less mess and no driving a real tree home. Experts say you have to keep a fake tree for a pretty long time to lessen its impact on the environment.

One scientific study concluded it might take up to 20 years.

Just last week, the American Christmas Tree Association, which represents retailers of both artificial and real trees posted another study.

It found that an artificial tree used for eight years is environmentally friendlier than buying a live cut tree year after year.

But environmentalists say there are other benefits to real trees, like generating new growth in forests. And many communities now recycle and compost your tree at the end of the season.

For most people, this debate has nothing to do with the environment. Some like the convenience of a fake tree, while others prefer the smell of the real ones.

A personal choice that can impact the world around us.


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