So, what’s more sustainable … a real tree or an artificial one?
A real tree is ozone friendly, is biodegradable or the waste can be re-used as landscape mulch. However, does it contribute to or decrease GHG emissions? Is it cheaper in the long run? An artificial tree can be repeatedly used for 7-10 years and is cost efficient. Can it be recycled?
The answer is … both, but it depends on a couple factors.
Real trees are usually farmed and sold regionally within 500 miles which means it won’t affect GHG emissions with fuel for transportation. However, do you live in a region where these trees are farmed? Perhaps in Arizona the question would be answered differently than North Carolina.
There is also the misconception that cutting down real trees is harmful to the ozone. This is a myth. Farmed trees are not the type of trees that benefit our ozone and pose no threat if cut down.
Artificial trees, on the other hand are usually made from fire resistant plastic. Once they reach the end of their useful life, they have to be discarded into a landfill and will not break down easily. However, because of their useful life and depending on where you live, an artificial tree may be the answer for you.
So … what do you do?
– If “real” is your choice, buy a live tree and plant it after the holidays for your children to watch grow.
– Buy an artificial tree made from recycled materials; a more expensive but a greener alternative.
– Do not buy a pre-lit tree. Wiring in these trees contains more lead for fire resistance which is not a greener choice!
– Buy ENERGY STAR rated lights. Prices are coming down year after year and it’s more energy efficient!
– Ask your salesperson where your real tree comes from. This will determine if it’s farmed regionally.
Try to make your own tree decorations. There is no funnier family project once the Egg Nog is made! Regardless of the choice that’s right for you and your family, have a safe and green holiday.