Good Question: More Eco-Friendly: Real Or Fake Trees?

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — For a lot of us, the choice is easy: we’re real tree or fake tree people.

Still, about 30 million of us will buy a real Christmas tree this year, according to trade associations. So, which is better for the environment: real or fake?

Although the fake tree trade group says both kinds of trees are green, the real tree Association says real trees are better for the earth.

Both can’t be correct, so two years ago, independent scientists prepared an exhaustive report on the question.
They found that when it comes to carbon footprint and impact on natural resources, it’s not even close. The real tree is better.

It takes a lot of energy and materials to create the plastic and the steel that make up fake trees. Plus, most of them are made in China — not like Dan Swan’s trees, which are grown not far from the Twin Cities.

Even though you buy a new tree every year, your old tree does get ground up and used for bio fuel.

The tree growers say they get a lot of questions on this, but it’s hard to argue that cutting down 30 million trees every year that were specifically grown to be cut down is an environmental problem.

Well-made fake trees are fine, too. However, the bigger issue is that fake trees on average last about 6 years. And most cities don’t take the PVC plastic at recycling plants. So they go right into landfills.

More from Jason DeRusha
  • » Blog Archive » Good Question: More Eco-Friendly: Real Or Fake Xmas Trees?

    […] [check out the report] […]

  • M

    How can you say a fake tree will only last on average of 6 years. I’m 29 years old and I know for a fact that my parents use a fake tree that is older than me. LOL

    • Betty

      You should replace your toothbrush every 3 months , but not everyone does. I am sure that the 29+ old fake tree looks realistic!

  • RuralMom

    My younger son is allergic to the real ones– so it has to be fake. My semi-eco-friendly solution? I bought a nice second hand fake tree at a local thrift shop. Vacuumed it off with the upholstery attachment, and it looks new. I kept a big hunk of plastic out of the landfill by reusing it, that has to count for something!
    If you go fake, look for a high-end one that’s used. Reduce-Reuse-Recycle!
    Same for all the tinsel, lights, ornaments. etc… ’em second-hand after a good look-over for safety. Save big bucks, keep it out of the landfills, and Decorate!!!

    • tan pup

      and add to the lead exposure that some of the old second had stuff has. Also, your son is probably alergic to the pollen on the real tress. Our entire family has some sort of allergy, so we wash the tree with mild organic detergent before it comes into the house and nothing can be compared to the beauty and smell of a real tree. I also display artificial trees – but every year the fun and exceitment of getting that “perfect” tree and supporting local farmers is a win win all around. PS every year it is “best tree ever”. ;)

  • confused

    My tree is over 20 years old and still going strong. Probably good for 20 more. Just the cost of fuel alone in going out to buy and discard a real tree would cost more than the average cost of my fake tree. Not to mention the carbon print of all the fuel burnt by the seller and me in getting that real tree to me each year. With my fake tree it happened once. And being my fake tree is mostly metal it can be recycled in the end.

    • David

      I agree with the fuel cost’s of real tree vs artificial!

  • David

    Seems the article did not take into consideration the fuel for driving each year to pick out a real tree, or the fuel used by the recycling truck. I walk up my stairs and carry the artificial tree down, no fossil fuel used there! My sister has the old “fake” tree that I purchased in 1992. Half baked report?

  • dan

    Boy, dont ever tell a greenie he is actually hurting the environment. Fuel cost to pick up and dispose of a real tree? Doesnt every Walmart and most grocery stores have a Christmas Tree stand in front of it?
    Go protest Global Warming!

  • Melissa Wenzel

    My parents’ fake tree that’s been around for 30 years is now my fake tree. It looks a little “Charlie Brown Christmas” like but there are so many memories tied up with that tree!!

    How about no tree? How about a living tree in a pot? Time to rethink, folks!!

    • Sam

      Go away buzz killer!

  • Roberta Fitzsimmons

    Hi, My mom’s fake tree was bought at Bob’s Produce Ranch Dec. 26, 1970 for $22.50 and no sales tax(she STILL has the receipt). It is in good condition yet and is beautifully decorated this year again! Roberta

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