Live tree vs artificial.

Catherine's picture

Should a Christmas tree be real or artificial? There are plenty of aspects on the issue. In or home it’s a very easy answer; it has to be artificial since we have allergy problems against real trees. A real Christmas tree and the holidays will be spent at the emergency room. So there is no contest between them.

If you don’t have any allergies the issue becomes more complex and there are a lot of scary information out there about the subject. The most common opinion on the internet seems to be that the artificial tree loses the battle because of its transportation from Asia and difficulties with the disposal of the tree.

It’s not that simple. A study from the international sustainability firm PE Americas found that the carbon footprint from an artificial tree used more than 10 years is much better than the footprint from live trees over the same period. Mostly it’s because the fossil fuel consumption for transporting the live tree.

Artificial trees are made out of PVC, which is the third most common manufactured plastic in the world. These days most trees are made of recycled material which reduces their environmental impact. It’s true that PVC isn’t biologically degradable, but it can be recycled up to seven times.

Which brings us to the issue of re-used. Do you really dispose of your artificial Christmas tree? I don’t!

I still use the first Christmas tree I bought. I was eight years old and we had just moved into the city, which was the year we discovered there were a reason why I always were ill over Christmas. The first time I didn’t have a real Christmas tree in my room, it was also the first Christmas I could bread properly.

I had saved my allowance and I bought this beautiful little two feet tree with a 10 lights multicolored light chain and 12 tiny little balls. I made the most beautiful tree decorations for it and it was a very treasured little tree. The light chain has retired, but the tree is still going strong.

My second tree was a 7-feet tree that I bought to my first home, about 30 years ago. We still use that one too and it’s actually looking good compared to some of our other, much younger trees.

During all these years I have retired one single tree, the holder for the branches started to break so there were no choice. The tree might be gone, but all the branches have a new life. The top of the tree is a smaller tree these days and the larger branches are used as decorations in pots and a few have even become molded into a wreath. So why dispose a Christmas tree when you can re-use it an give it a new life?

An artificial tree can give you joy for over 40 years, or as long as you continue to be creative with it. That’s sustainability for me.

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