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Which is Better For the Environment: Real or Fake Christmas Trees?

By Angelica Niedermeyer

It’s that time of year again! Sometimes as early as the day after Thanksgiving, people everywhere will start preparing for Christmas. This brings up the annual question- Do you get a real or fake Christmas tree?

When it comes down to it, it just depends what you are really prioritizing: cost benefits, or which is better for the environment. So when you are thinking about buying a synthetic tree or a real pine, remember that Christmas tree farms grow trees specifically for the holiday season and the mass purchase of these trees. 

Even though it seems bad to cut down a tree, buying a plastic tree creates carbon emissions when they are produced and shipped. However, this is unlike real trees which release oxygen and take in carbon dioxide which is more beneficial to the environment and people. 

“It may take 8 to 12 years to grow a good sized tree. But during that time, the tree is taking in carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. It is cleaning the air and helping slow climate change. If people didn’t buy the cut trees, the farmers wouldn’t plant them,” says “Help Earth: Buy A Real Christmas Tree!” from NASA. 

While reusable trees will last longer, do not require any watering, and are more cost effective over the years, in the end, real trees are more resourceful. Real trees support small local businesses as opposed to the online companies selling plastic ones. 

When it is time to dispose of your tree, fake ones are not biodegradable like real trees. Synthetic trees end up in landfills while real trees can be turned into lumber and mulch afterwards.

If a real tree or fake tree is simply not the move, there is another alternative: a plant!

“The perfect alternative to a traditional real or fake tree might just be a living tree. As odd as this sounds, many eco-conscious companies offer tree adoption programs that allow you to buy a living Christmas tree in a flower pot,” says Green Matters in a recent article.

No matter what you end up deciding to celebrate Christmas with, as long as you make the most of it. Don’t forget to spend time with loved ones around your tree. And hopefully, you will also think about making sustainable choices and supporting local jobs and farms around you. 

Angelica is a sophomore at Manhattan College and the Events Coordinator at HerCampus Manhattan. She is studying Communications with a concentration in Journalism and a minor in French.
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