Real vs. Fake tree: which one is more sustainable?

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! It’s time for all things holly and jolly, but how can you celebrate this holiday season sustainably? For starters, let’s talk about the centerpiece of your living room each December and let’s be real - early January too - the Christmas tree.

The debate between real and fake trees has gone on for years, but when it comes to being green, what’s the right answer? The Nature Conservancy of Indiana says that a real tree wins every time.

Chris Neggers, the director of forest conservation for the Nature Conservancy of Indiana, says that “real trees are renewable, compostable, biodegradable, and grown by local farmers, and have a much lower carbon footprint than artificial trees do.”

There’s a misconception that fake trees are better for our environment because they get reused each year - but that’s not quite right. According to the World Wildlife Fund, you would need to use an artificial tree for 10 years for your purchase to be considered sustainable.

It is far more environmentally friendly to get a tree grown naturally from your local tree farm, even if it’s a bit of a drive. The impact from the gas used by your personal car when driving to and from a tree farm pales in comparison to the negative effects brought on by artificial Christmas trees.

Nearly 90% of artificial Christmas trees here in the US are imported from China with more coming from other countries overseas. Shipping those trees here regardless if it's by air or sea uses large amount of fuel, hurting our environment.

If a real Christmas tree just isn't an option for you, don't worry! There are still plenty of ways to get your home in the holiday spirit while keeping the planet in mind. The Nature Conservancy suggests wreaths, holiday roping, table ornaments, and other decorations that can be sourced sustainably.

Other holiday-style plants including poinsettias, holly, and mistletoe can also make your home merry and bright. These plants can be toxic to pets, so if you have a furry friend at home, you'll want to look for other options. Of course, some of the best holiday decorations are ones that you can make yourself at home using recycled materials!

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