Real vs. Fake Christmas tree: which is better for the environment?

Real vs. Fake Christmas Tree: Which should I choose?

Christmas trees bring the festive ambiance in our home, but which Christmas tree should I choose? Real or fake? While real Christmas trees bring the charm of nature into our homes, their environmental impact is a subject of debate, often compared with the durability and reusability of artificial trees. Let’s explore the pros and cons of both real and fake trees.


What is the environmental impact of Real Christmas trees?

Most Christmas trees are grown on tree farms, and therefore do not contribute to deforestation. Most tree farms manage the tree plantations in a sustainable way, by ensuring that more trees are planted than harvested. While growing, real trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and releasing oxygen. Christmas tree plantations provide valuable habitat for a variety of animal species, including birds, squirrels, and insects. These trees offer shelter, nesting sites, and food sources, supporting biodiversity within the cultivated areas. Finally, real Christmas trees, once they have fulfilled their festive purpose, can be chipped into mulch or composted. This process transforms the discarded trees into nutrient-rich organic matter that enhances soil quality and nourishes new plant growth.

Sounds ideal? It´s not that simple.

According to research conducted by Ellipsos, there is some debate around whether trees absorb more carbon than they release in their first 20 years of life (Holiday trees are generally cut down in their teenage years, so don’t reach their ultimate carbon absorbing old-growth potential).

The transportation of real Christmas trees from farms to retail outlets contributes to carbon emissions. While local sourcing can minimize this impact, it is a factor to consider when evaluating the overall environmental footprint.

Real Christmas trees typically last for one season, requiring annual replacement and disposal. This poses a challenge in terms of resource utilization and waste management, because let´s be honest: how many trees are actually composted? Most trees end up in landfill, decomposing and generating methane, a harmful greenhouse gas. Finally, conventional Christmas tree farms may employ pesticides to control pests and diseases. While sustainable farming practices are becoming increasingly common, the use of pesticides can have detrimental effects on ecosystems if not carefully managed.


What is the environmental impact of artificial of Fake Christmas trees?

Artificial Christmas trees offer convenience, durability, and the potential for repeated use over many years. However, their environmental impact is often scrutinized due to the materials and manufacturing processes involved. Let’s examine the pros and cons of artificial Christmas trees in more detail:

Artificial Christmas trees can last for several years, reducing the need for frequent replacements and minimizing the overall demand for Christmas trees. This extended lifespan contributes to resource conservation and waste reduction. Artificial Christmas trees are typically treated with flame retardants, making them less susceptible to fire hazards compared to real trees. This safety feature reduces the risk of fire incidents during the holiday season.

However, most artificial Christmas trees are made in factories overseas, often in China, and they have a huge transportation footprint. Most fake Christmas trees are made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which is one of the naughtiest plastics on the plastics list and pollutes across its entire lifespan, from production to end of life. Trees made from PVC are difficult to recycle and so end up going to landfill where they release more greenhouse gases and pollute ecosystems by leaching dangerous chemicals. These materials require significant energy consumption and generate waste during the manufacturing process.

Artificial Christmas trees, once they reach the end of their lifespan, often end up in landfills. The non-biodegradable nature of these materials poses a long-term environmental burden if not properly recycled or disposed of responsibly.

If you choose to buy an artificial Christmas tree, you can try to buy it second hand, and most importantly, make sure to use it and reuse it as many years as you can!


Making an Informed Choice: Balancing Convenience and Sustainability

The choice between real and artificial Christmas trees is a personal one, often influenced by individual preferences, lifestyle choices, and environmental concerns. For those who value sustainability, appreciate the natural beauty of real trees, and prioritize responsible disposal practices, opting for a locally sourced real tree can be a viable option.

On the other hand, those seeking convenience, a tree that lasts through multiple seasons, and the peace of mind associated with flame retardant materials may find artificial trees more appealing. However, it is crucial to consider the long-term environmental impact of artificial trees and seek out options made from recycled materials whenever possible.

Ultimately, the most sustainable approach lies in conscious consumption and minimizing the environmental footprint of either type of Christmas tree. By making informed decisions, adopting eco-friendly practices, and promoting responsible disposal, we can preserve the festive spirit while safeguarding our planet for future generations.


TOP 9 Eco-Friendly Christmas Tree alternatives

If you’re looking for a more eco-friendly way to celebrate the holidays, and want to try something new, different from the two popular options ( real vs. artificial tree), there are plenty of alternatives. Here are some of the most popular and creative options:

Ladder Tree

A ladder tree is a simple and elegant way to add a festive touch to your home. To make a ladder tree, simply lean a ladder against a wall and decorate it with lights, ornaments, and tinsel.


Book Tree

A book tree is a great option for book lovers. To make a book tree, stack books of different heights in a triangular shape. You can then decorate the books with lights, ornaments, and ribbons.


Branch Tree

A branch tree is a rustic and natural way to decorate your home. To make a branch tree, collect branches from your yard or a local park. You can then arrange the branches in a triangular shape and decorate them with lights, ornaments, and pinecones.


Fruits Tree

A fruits tree is a colorful and festive way to add a touch of nature to your home. To make a fruits tree, stack fruits of different colors and shapes in a triangular shape. You can then decorate the fruits with lights, ornaments, and leaves.


Potted Tree

A potted tree is a sustainable and eco-friendly option. You can then replant the tree in your yard after the holidays, and care for it all year-long until the next holiday season.



Invented by Naked Larder, A tree Pod is simply a bamboo tee-pee wrapped with lights and decorations can be hung off the wire from the lights.


Hangers Tree

A hangers tree is a fun and creative way to reuse old hangers. To make a hangers tree, simply bend hangers into the shape of a tree and decorate them with lights, ornaments, and ribbons.


Rent a Tree

Renting a tree is a great option if you don’t want to purchase a tree that you will only use for a few weeks. Instead, these companies will take it back at the end of the season, and re-plant it. There are many companies that rent Christmas trees.


Garland Tree

A garland tree is a simple and festive way to decorate your home. To make a garland tree, simply drape garland over a door frame or window. You can then decorate the garland with lights, ornaments, and ribbons.


No matter which alternative you choose, you can still enjoy all the festivities of the holidays without harming the environment!


More Christmas articles and tips

If you liked this article and would like to find all our Christmas eco tips, sustainable alternatives for Christmas trees, and more click here.

Author: easyecotips

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