Which Type Of Christmas Tree — Real Or Artificial — Is More ‘Green’?

As far as Christmas trees go, there are two kinds of people: real tree people and artificial tree people. But, which kind of tree is better for the environment?

CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker reports.

‘Tis the season for tree shopping. And after years of having an artificial tree, Kaylee Johnson is going real again.

“It’s just a food feeling. You can smell it,” she says.

Some people say a fake tree is better for planet Earth. But yet the Nature Conservancy has another suggestion.

“Get out and buy yourself a real tree and help the environment,” the organization’s Jeff Wiegel says.

The nature-loving group says while 30 million trees will be cut down this year for Christmas, there are more than 10 times as many left standing. Also, buying real keeps tree farms in business and their lands covered in forest.

As for artificial trees, the U.S. Commerce Department says 90 percent of them are imported from China, so overseas shipping adds to the carbon footprint.  Plus the artificial trees may contain lead and other chemicals and they can’t be recycled.

But a new study found that fake trees may be greener than you think. It was sponsored by the American Christmas Tree Association, which represents retailers of both real and artificial trees.

The study says that if you use your artificial tree for more than eight years, it’s actually friendlier to the environment than if you buy a live-cut tree year after year.

Eight years is a long time. Still, that’s good news for a lot of people.

If real is what you want, the ACTA says look for one grown near your home that has not been shipped a long distance. And at the end of the season, be sure to recycle it.

Johnson was happy with her choice of a real tree.

“It’s just a good Christmas feeling all around,” she says.

So what do you do? There are pros and cons on each side. Deciding on real vs. fake comes down to which environmental issues are most important to you.

More from Dorothy Tucker
  • JeanSC

    I think the best Christmas tree is a live tree growing in the ground and not cut down! It doesn’t even have to be decorated. One year I came upon a tall, beautiful evergreen tree in far northern Wisconsin, by itself with a forest backdrop, lit up by the golden light of the setting sun. I ran through 2+ feet of snow to get my camera to take a picture. That went on the front of my holiday greeting card.
    A tree farm – especially one for Christmas trees only, is ecologically no more a forest than a cornfield is a prairie. A real forest would be better, and let’s help those ex-tree-farmers get other work. Maybe a better idea for an artificial tree would be one made of items which are useful and could be given to loved ones after the season is done.

  • Steve

    I like the smell of a real tree.
    But I have a fake one, but it don’t smell.. like obama…fake a s s…still

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