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Christmas Trees: Real or Fake?

As the end of year approaches, many of us who celebrate Christmas will be looking for one of the most iconic symbols of the holiday, a tree. If you’re getting a new tree this year, you likely know that there are two types of trees out there: real trees uprooted from the ground, or fake trees made of plastic and other synthetic materials. You may ask yourself, which one is better (in an environmental sense)? Well, I’ve got you covered, because today, we’ll be comparing some pros and cons of real and fake trees.

Real Trees


Since real trees are, well, real, they’re completely biodegradable, recyclable, and sustainable, making it quite easy to efficiently dispose of them while still being eco-friendly. You could just dispose of them but they can be used for lumber and mulch, among many others. The waste generated can even be thrown into some compost! Additionally, if the tree hasn’t been completely cut, you can replant it so it continues to benefit the environment.

Since they are a bit bulkier to move around, you’ll likely buy a real tree from somewhere nearby (unless you’re extremely ambitious). Not only does this help support local businesses, but it also reduces the amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions emitted from the transportation of the tree, which reduces the tree’s impact on climate change. Definitely a positive!


However, not only can real trees be expensive to continue buying (since you’ll have to buy a new one every year), they are also somewhat high-maintenance. You’ll have to water and trim your tree frequently and make sure that it doesn’t harbor any fungi, bugs, or mold, which it might often do.

They could also pose a danger in the household as they’re typically more flammable, especially when dehydrated, and they often drop sharp needles. They might also not be the best choice if someone in the house is allergic to them.

Finally, they seem like they’d be way more eco-friendly since they’re real, and they are, to a certain extent. Unfortunately, the Christmas tree industry has become so greedy, for lack of a better word, that they frequently use chemical pesticides (that are definitely NOT eco-friendly) during the growing process to ensure a better product.

Fake Trees


Since fake trees are not actually real, they don’t require as much maintenance or have as many precautions as real trees. They don’t need to be watered, most are not as flammable, there’s less scope for allergies, and they don’t drop needles.

Fake trees can be cost-effective in the long run since you can reuse them for several years. Also, their quality is arguably just as good as real trees these days, since both types look very similar, and fake trees aren’t extremely hard to build / dismantle. To add on, you can virtually customize your fake tree to the tree of your dreams.


I’m sure this is obvious by now, but the production of fake trees is significantly detrimental to the environment. According to the Christmas Tree Association, fake trees have 3 times the impact on resource depletion and climate change than real trees do. The materials they are made of are completely toxic, unsustainable and require much more energy to produce, contributing to the large carbon footprint of fake trees. Another contributor to the carbon footprint is their transportation, seeing as many are shipped overseas. Additionally, while you can reuse them, fake trees will eventually be unusable, at which point they’ll just rot in a landfill (contributing to climate change + the waste problem) since they cannot be naturally reused or recycled at all.

When it comes down to what type is better, it really is a matter of your preference, but I hope this post helped to shed some light on the debacle that is what type of tree to purchase. Happy shopping!

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