Does your family get a real tree every year, or do you have an artificial one you always take out of storage?
If you typically use a fake tree, but are maybe open to switching up some Christmas traditions this year, here are eight great reasons why you should consider going for real over artificial.
Why Get a Real Tree
1) They preserve land that otherwise would not be.
Christmas trees are typically grown on soils that cannot support other crops. I’ve heard the argument before that Christmas tree farms should be used to grow crops for food instead of trees, but this is likely impossible.
According to the Christmas Tree Farm Network, “Christmas tree farms stabilize soil, protect water supplies, and provide refuge for wildlife while creating scenic green belts.”
2) They can be recycled.
When they’re recycled, real Christmas trees can be ground into a mulch and put right back into the earth they came from, providing a protective barricade for the roots of other plants and vegetation. The mulch then decomposes to produce important nutrients for plants.
There are over 4,000 Christmas tree recycling programs in the US.
3) It’s the more environmentally-friendly choice.
By comparison, artificial trees usually cannot be recycled because of the PVC and additional harmful materials in them; PVC is both non-renewable and polluting. Artificial trees will never deteriorate.
Aluminum trees can be recycled, but they’re quite ugly.
4) They reduce our carbon footprint.
Christmas trees – like all trees – absorb carbon dioxide and other gases, generating fresh oxygen. There are about 1 million acres in production in the US for growing Christmas trees, with each acre providing daily oxygen requirements for 18 people.
It’s estimated that an artificial tree has a carbon footprint more than twice that of a real tree – an artificial tree would have to be reused for at least 10 Christmases to keep its environmental impact lower than that of an actual tree.
5) You’re keeping it local.
Most artificial trees come from China, while we have thousands of Christmas tree farms right here in the US. Christmas trees are able to be grown in all 50 states.
6) You’re helping to sustain the tree population.
Real Christmas trees are grown on farms like other crops and are replaced after harvesting. For every tree harvested, most farmers plant three in its place.
Therefore, the tree population is not reduced due to Christmas tree farming, but is actually preserved, protected, and increased.
In other words, you’re not “killing” the tree by bringing it inside – they’re grown as ornamental crops. There is no deforestation. In fact, again, by buying a real Christmas tree, you’re actually contributing to more trees being planted.
7) It’s the safer choice.
Having a real tree in the house is safer. If a real tree should happen to catch on fire, the fumes would not be nearly as toxic as they would be from a fake tree. Although, an adequately cared for tree will not catch on fire easily.
By the way, regardless of if you have a real or fake tree, a fire is most likely to start from the lights, so that’s what you want to pay attention to, to be safe – don’t overdo it.
8) They’re better for your mental health.
A real tree has been found to be better for your mental health. According to the University of Surrey in the UK, “There is a lot of evidence to suggest that people recover more quickly from stress and mental fatigue when exposed to natural, as opposed to built-up and ‘fake’ environments.” This same logic can be applied to real plants in an office.
There are other reasons to go authentic – you can trim a real tree to fit into your house, they smell better, it can be a wonderful family tradition to pick one out each year, etc., but the reasons listed above are the really important ones.
Why Get a Fake Tree
Of course, I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t acknowledge the other side of the argument.
Reasons to get an artificial tree:
- Someone in the family is allergic to the real thing.
- You save money by not having to buy a new tree each year.
- They look better and more realistic than they used to.
- Easier cleanup.*
*Although, I have found if you’re willing to spend a bit more money on a decent Christmas tree, the pine needle retention is much better. If you want a tree that won’t shed its needles as much go for one of these varieties: balsam firm, blue spruce, fraser fir, scotch pine, or white pine.
Also, sometimes people just throw real trees away, therefore also throwing away the benefits from recycling.
Look, if you get an artificial tree, it’s fine. I grew up with a fake tree. Lots of people have them. You’re not a terrible person. I most certainly have thrown things away that should be recycled, and am otherwise not in a position to judge.
But it gets me every year that people have these misguided beliefs that it’s not the environmentally responsible choice and you’re killing the tree. I think there’s a lot of false information out there.
So, I’m trying to do my part to educate the public on what real Christmas trees bring to the table, to help out this important industry that employs over 100,000 people.
Whether you go for the real thing or not, have a great time decorating your tree and happy holidays!
- Christmas Tree Association: Quick Tree Facts
- Christmas Tree Farm Network: Real or plastic?
- University of Surrey: “Real Christmas trees are better for your health than artificial ones,” says University of Surrey academic
- Wisconsin Christmas Tree Producers Association: Why Buy a Real Christmas Tree?