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Are Real or Fake Christmas Trees More Sustainable?

Christmas trees are a staple of the holiday season. Here's what you need to know about their sustainability.  

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The Hidden Benefits of Real Trees 

Many consumers opt for plastic or artificial trees in an attempt to be a more sustainable. After all, artificial trees are reusable and can last years. However, the carbon footprint of producing artificial trees makes even non-organic trees look much more sustainable. A six-foot artificial tree has a carbon footprint of around 40kg of CO2, equivalent to driving 100 miles in the average car! 

Real Christmas trees are renewable, and absorb carbon dioxide as they grow. Additionally, real Christmas trees are biodegradable and can be turned into mulch. Recycling a Christmas tree properly can reduce its carbon footprint by up to 80%!

Despite the longevity of artificial trees, they are often not recyclable and can pollute already billowing landfills. If you already have an artificial tree, we suggest reusing is for as long as you can!

Properly Disposing of Trees 

When the time has come to retire your Christmas tree, it’s important to make sure you dispose of it the right way. Throwing your real tree in the trash would cause it to decompose in the landfill and release methane in the atmosphere. Instead, you give it to a recycling center or drop it off in a Home Depot to recycle and use it for mulch and other purposes. 

Which Sources are Most Sustainable? 

Many farms promote themselves as being FSC certified, which means that they replace harvested Christmas trees by planting twice as many as they cut each year to minimize deforestation risks. However, many farms also use pesticides and biocides, which can be very hazardous to the environment. Opting for organic Christmas tree farms is a more sustainable option as they don't use pesticides and commit to harvesting rainwater rather than pulling from aquifers.

If you don't have any organic farms near you, look for a tree nursery, which are small businesses that grow trees from pots. Pot-grown trees can be treated as houseplants and can last year-round as long as they are maintained on a regular basis, making them a great sustainable option!