Fact Check: Which is more environmentally friendly: a real or an artificial Christmas tree?



Those celebrating Christmas may become increasingly concerned about their carbon footprint when it comes to traditional decorations. Let’s get to the truth.


It’s an annual dilemma… do you buy an artificial tree that may or may not be reused, or do you buy a real tree that you’re sure will eventually be thrown away?

Let’s start with an artificial tree. According to the Nature Conservancy, nearly 90% of that is shipped from China around the world. An environmental organization based in the United States.

These trees are likely to be made of polyvinyl chloride or PVC, which generates greenhouse gases during manufacturing and are not biodegradable.

In fact, PVC is one of them. Plastics are the most difficult to recycle.

according to carbon trustAn artificial tree that is 2 meters high produces around 40 kg of CO2, while a real Christmas tree of the same size without roots produces 3.5 kg of CO2. That is, it will be more than 10 times less than an artificial tree.

But what if we reuse it? It would take about 10 to 20 Christmases to have a lower environmental impact than buying a real tree every year.

But isn’t cutting down real fir trees the same as deforestation? According to Ellipso research, the main problem with real trees is the impact of Christmas tree plantations, which in some cases destroy natural ecosystems. You will be pushed away.

Ellipsos also argued that cutting down real trees for one-time use before turning them into mulch or compost can be wasteful.

However, purchasing real trees helps keep the plantation operational. Denmark is Europe’s largest exporter of Christmas trees. 11 million trees produced Every year.

In Belgium, Europe’s second largest exporter, tree producers have an estimated turnover of €35 million. According to the European Commission.

What would be the smartest choice?

At the end of the day, the smartest option all depends on each person’s circumstances. But, according to The Carbon Trust, there are some things you can do to make the greenest choices.

  • If you get a real tree, make sure it’s locally grown and be careful not to walk or drive too far.
  • Once you get your artificial tree, make sure it lasts a long time. Buy second hand or keep it for as long as possible.
  • When you’re done with your tree, be sure to dispose of it responsibly, either by donating it to a new home or turning it into mulch.

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