Are real or artificial Christmas trees better for the environment?
Author: Allyson Chiu
While you might worry that chopping down tens of millions of trees each year amounts to an environmental nightmare, a real Christmas tree can be more sustainable than an artificial one, says Bill Ulfelder, executive director of the Nature Conservancy in New York. “There should be no remorse, no guilt, like, ‘Oh my goodness, it’s a cut tree.’ It’s absolutely the contrary,” says Ulfelder, who has a master’s degree in forestry. “Trees are a renewable resource. When they’re being cut, they’re being harvested in ways that they’re being replanted, so it’s a great renewable resource that provides lots of environmental, conservation and nature benefits.” But with more consumers becoming increasingly concerned about their purchases’ environmental impact, you might be wondering which type of Christmas tree is more planet-friendly. Still, real trees may be the preferred choice over artificial ones when it comes to overall sustainability, which also takes into account economic and social impacts, says Bert Cregg, a professor of horticulture and forestry at Michigan State University. “That’s where I think the real trees are head and shoulders above” artificial trees, Cregg says.