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  • Erin B,

    This is a nice sentiment, but unfortunately artificial trees are extremely un-green. They are manufactured using petroleum and other nasty toxic chemicals. Not to mention the pollution petroleum plants output on a daily basis.

    If you really want to go green, buy a LIVE tree, which is in pot. Once the holidays are over, you can either opt to keep it indoors or plant it outside.

  • http://condo-blues.blogspot.com Condo Blues

    I think the biggest factor comes down to which type of tree you prefer. Live tree lovers have valid green points as do fake tree lovers.

  • http://www.levinovey.com Levi Novey

    Erin, thanks for your perspective. I tend to agree that for Americans, planting a live tree would be ideal, but that it’s also an unrealistic goal. Remember that a large portion of the U.S. population lives in urban areas, and that planting a tree afterward would be logistically challenging. For those who own property or who could plant a tree elsewhere though it’s a great idea.

    I also think that the “science” on comparing the impact of artificial trees to live ones is on the side of live ones, but still not 100% conclusive. For instance, a quick study of wikipedia’s entry on Christmas trees gives you an idea that all artificial trees are not made of the same materials: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_tree

    Could they be made from recyclable materials?

    Absolutely! Are they right now? Probably most aren’t and aren’t perfect for the environment (but how many things are?).

    Also check out this site and who is running it. It’s pretty clear propaganda. These kinds of sites only add to the efforts of each industry (tree growers, plastic tree makers) to propagate myths about the other: http://www.christmastree.org/debate.cfm

    Moving to a global perspective, where I live in Peru we don’t have a lot of forests. Lima is in the desert. While trees do grow here, they are not abundant and probably aren’t species conducive to serving as Christmas Trees. The live trees that are available probably come from the Amazon Rainforest, that definitely doesn’t need any more deforestation than it already has.

    So, in other words, some parts of the world where Christmas is celebrated don’t have abundant forests or tree farms, and/or places that would be appropriate necessarily to plant trees.

    A mix of environmentally friendly practices is thus needed as a solution.

  • http://vabulus.com Vania A. B.

    I’ve never had a real tree, maybe the fact that I’m South American (Colombian) has something to do with that. However, I also don’t see the reason for cutting down a tree just so you can put one in your house for one month then throw it away. That’s so wasteful! Even though you have to find a place to store the tree during the rest of the year, it’s much more economic to purchase one tree for say $30-50 then use it for five or more years.

  • http://ohecome.com Jenny

    I can see there there are points to be made on both sides of this discussion. I’ve never owned an artificial tree. Here in the U.S. it seems more environmentally friendly to purchase a live tree. They are generally grown on farms for this purpose. (Not like you’re going into the forest and cutting down a tree). In the US, a key factor would be how far is the tree traveling to get to your hometown. To reduce the carbon footprint of your live tree purchase, always ask where the trees are from and make your decision accordingly. Try to purchase locally. Also,live trees are not always just “dumped” after the holidayas. Many communities have programs to recycle live trees and turn them into mulch. I love the idea of artificial trees being constructed of recycle materials. Hopefully this in our near future, since many people seem attached to their “fake” trees. Happy Holidays!

  • Brooke

    Artificial Trees:

    Made overseas, uses petrol to ship
    Made from petrol materials (plastic)
    Made from unrecyclable materials (plastic, metal)
    WILL eventually end up at landfill (even 100 years from now… it WILL)


    Real Tree (cut down)

    If you do not recycle it into a lake or use as mulch then you have wasted a “natural” resource (like throwing away raw wood or leaves).
    It used a bit of land to grow (but see below)
    It used water to grow

    Usually grown and harvested relatively locally for most areas (at least within state)
    Although it used land, most Xmas trees are planted on land which could not otherwise be used for anything else (hard soil, only tree-bearing topsoil)
    Provides a source for Oxygen (and recycling that CO2, as trees usually do)
    Possibly provides a great aquatic habitat if it gets recycled into a lake afterwards
    Makes great mulch material to insulate your plant beds (if mulched)

    Real Tree (planted with roots)

    Could have been planted, grown, and then shipped from almost anywhere (possible unwarranted use of petrol)
    Comes in a non-recyclable container
    Believe it or not, Xmas tree varieties are difficult to keep alive in a planter, and even more difficult to transfer into the ground (for the common person… I’ve heard LOTS of stories of well-intended people who “kill” their tree accidentally before they can transplant it)

    If you can keep it alive, and if your climate zone is right, you can plant it.
    Your new tree may provide a new habitat for birds and squirrels.
    Next year, you can just dress up that tree outside instead of buying a new potted tree… or will you?

    There’s LOTS to consider here, folks. LOTS.

  • Pat

    This seems well-intentioned, but it is false. Almost all real trees are farmed, and tree farms plant at least one, and as many as three, to replace the ones that are cut down. Most importantly, they are biodegradable, and as others have mentioned many towns recycle them for other purposes, like mulch. The bottom line is even if a person or family uses an artificial tree for generations, it will eventually end up in a landfill. If someone already has an artificial tree, than using it for as long as possible is probably the most green solution, but if the decision is between buying an artificial tree or buying a real one, real ones win out. It’s somewhat counter-intuitive and many well-meaning people probably buy artificial trees thinking they’re doing the environment a favor, which is understandable, but actively promoting artificial trees as a green solution is untrue and dangerous. More info from the Sierra Club: http://sierraclub.typepad.com/mrgreen/2008/12/a-real-or-fake-christmas-tree-which-is-greener.html

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