Real or fake: Which Christmas trees are better for the environment?

Weather

AUSTIN (KXAN) — If you’ve yet to purchase your Christmas tree this year, you may be considering a fake one.

With their lack of maintenance, perfect shape, and no needles, it’s easy to choose a fake one. But the decision to choose a fake tree for it’s convenience for just a few weeks out of the year may be significantly more harmful to the environment for years to come.

Aaron Stottlemyer, Forest Resource Analyst from Texas A&M Forest service explains.

“If you think about fake Christmas trees, what are they made of? They’re typically manufactured from petroleum-based plastics and metal and might contain toxic metals such as lead,” said Stottlemyer. “They typically only last about 10 years before they’re disposed of in a landfill. And are essentially non-biodegradable… A large majority of fake trees are manufactured in foreign countries.”

Chopping down and using a real Christmas tree, on the other hand, may not be as harmful as you may think.

“[Real Christmas trees] are quickly biodegradable, and renewable. Since 1-3 trees are replanted to replace them once they’re harvested. Many communities have these Christmas tree collections, where they invite residents to bring their Christmas trees after they’re used so they might be mulched,” says Stottlemyer. “And in some cases, they might be sunk to the bottom of a water body and used as habitat for fish and other aquatic organisms.”

Stottlemyer also adds that real trees come from farms that act as habitats for numerous birds and mammals during the 6 to 10 years it takes for them to grow. During this time, the trees are also reducing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and converting it into oxygen.

Additionally, the local boost to the local economy of Christmas tree farms far outweighs importing fake ones from other countries.

Stottlemyer explains, “the christmas tree industry in Texas generates almost $400 million in industrial sales, and employs nearly 4,000 people, with a payroll of over $110 million.”

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