Ah, the Christmas tree conundrum. Fake or real? It’s quite a controversial issue; let’s face it – it has the potential to tear families apart. An artificial tree saves time and money and provides a pleasantly symmetrical vision of Christmas, but a real tree smells better and is arguably a means of making warmer memories, what with all that hunting for the perfectly imperfect specimen and awkward stringing of lights. It may be best to leave emotions and preferences aside and look at the choice from the perspective of sustainability. Because that won’t be controversial at all.
The Pros of the Real Tree
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, about 33 million live Christmas trees are sold in North America yearly. Over the course of their lifetimes, each of those trees absorbed anywhere from 30-400 pounds of carbon dioxide before they were harvested, and recent studies indicate that Christmas trees also absorb methane. For the most part, real Christmas trees are grown and sold in North America (that means jobs here at home) and they can be recycled, mulched or burned for firewood after their jolly purpose is fulfilled.
The Cons of the Real Tree
But real Christmas trees come at a cost. Most are not grown organically, which means pesticides and herbicides run off into the environment and eventually into someone’s body, if not yours or mine; and over the course of tending, processing and transporting those trees to the cozy corners of our living rooms, the amount of carbon dioxide that is emitted into the atmosphere is more than what the tree took out of the atmosphere during its relatively short, prescribed life.