Are artificial Christmas trees better for the environment?

Sure, real Christmas trees are nice. They smell heavenly and are authentic representing what Christmas is mostly about. But is cutting a tree each year for the holiday sustainable and good for the environment? Or is using a plastic tree a better option? We explore the arguments in favour or against an

artificial or real Christmas tree

The arguments

The holidays are not complete without a tree adorning the home whether it is plastic or real. Here are the advantages and disadvantages of using a fake tree in place of real pine.

  • Cost
  • A fir tree depending on the size will set you back 50 euros or more. In contrast if you are buying a plastic Christmas tree, your one time cost will be 100-200 euros again depending on the size and the quality of the artificial tree. Assuming that you will use it for at least 5 years, then purchasing a plastic one will probably be more cost effective. If you use it longer than that, then it is sure that it will turn out cheaper in the long run.

  • Better for the environment
  • This argument is a sticking or sore point and not necessarily true. There are studies that show fake trees are in fact more harmful to the atmosphere. They are mostly produced in China where there is little regard for the toxic carbon emissions. On top of this, plastic trees contain PVC that are carcinogenic. These harmful substances are produced during the manufacturing and disposal stage.

    Real trees, on the other hand, are harvested from farms that are sustainable. This means that they are not just randomly cut in some forest so you can have a tree for the holidays. Hence, when comparing the emissions of real versus fake trees, studies suggest that the carbon footprint of authentic Christmas trees are a third less than those of plastic ones.

    The debate

    Of course, there is no clear cut boundary as to what is morally correct for the environment. Proponents of plastic trees argue that it is a viable option if you are going to use it for several years. But, that should be at least 10 years. 20 is better if you are going to consider it environmentally friendly. As for friends of real Christmas trees, putting up a natural one for the holidays is less damaging to the environment and is a sustainable practice.

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