Go (Ever)Green This Holiday Season


Mary Ferrito, Staff Writer, Social Media Manager

As you unearth your December decor, you may be faced with a popular holiday debate: What’s better? A real or fake Christmas tree? While there are pros and cons to both, ultimately, purchasing an evergreen from a Christmas tree farm is far better for the environment than hitting up a Target for a plastic pine. 

It’s completely reasonable to question how in the midst of an environmental crisis of deforestation and forest fires it’s okay to chop down millions of trees, but when managed properly, harvesting trees can actually be beneficial in maintaining healthy woodlands and a healthy planet. 

Supporting Christmas tree farms means that an abundance of trees are planted each season and lands stay covered with lush forestation– much of which will not even be harvested. According to The Nature Conservancy, “Out of the 350-500 million growing on tree farms across the U.S., only 30 million trees are harvested for Christmas each year. Buying real trees will help keep tree farms in business – and in turn keep their lands covered in the healthy forest habitat that wildlife depends on to survive.” 

While purchasing authentic trees causes little to no pollution, manufactured trees do so before even arriving in your home. Sandra Laville, a journalist from The Guardian, sheds light on the environmental concerns of manufacturing artificial trees. “A 6.5ft artificial tree has a carbon footprint equivalent to about 40kg of greenhouse gas emissions – which is more than twice that of a real tree that ends its life in landfill and more than 10 times that of a real tree which is burnt.” 

Where does this carbon footprint come from, though? Nearly 85% of artificial trees come all the way from China. The actual manufacturing processes themselves emit loads of greenhouse gases, but the transportation is the greatest in terms of carbon releases because of the large consumption of oil and fuels needed to make it overseas. 

On the flip side, producing real trees is much more natural for the environment and once the season concludes, evergreens are biodegradable and can be recycled back into the environment, whereas a plastic tree would be the topper to a tower of waste in a landfill somewhere. 

While there are many environmental pros of going green this Christmas, there’s also lots of fun to be had in visiting a Christmas tree farm this season. What’s the excitement in piling into the minivan to run to Walmart for a stiff, synthetic smelling tree when you can make selecting a tree into a memorable family tradition? In the end, there’s nothing that screams Christmas more than a fresh evergreen filling your home with the smell of pine that you handpicked.  

In essence, for future Christmas tree picking endeavors– go for the real pine! The environment, your home, and family will thank you!