Let friends in your social network know what you are reading about. Natural Christmas trees outsell artificial trees each year by the millions. A link has been sent to your friend's email address.
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If you see comments in violation of our community guidelinesplease report them. Many buyers of real trees believe that the firs, pines, and spruces they lash to their cars are more environmentally friendly.
But artificial trees are gaining in popularity, raising the question: Are real trees really better for the environment? Assessing the environmental impact is trickier than it seems.
Scientists, engineers, and industry consultants have dug deep into the data over the years, looking at just about everything from how natural trees are grown to how much water, fertilizer and pesticides are used in their growth, and how they are disposed of after Christmas. For artificial trees, researchers look at the PVC and steel used to make them, their long transportation to the United States from China, the type of stand used, and how many years the trees are reused.
Here are some factors to consider for each type of tree, according to a report by WAP Sustainability Consulting.
Real VS fake: The great Christmas tree debate (and which is the most eco-friendly tree)
It takes time to grow a tree of about 6. In all, it can take up to a decade to produce a Christmas tree from seed to sale. And the cut trees require a lot of transportation. Consider that Oregon and North Carolina are the largest producers of Christmas trees, though Pennsylvania is fourth, according to the National Christmas Tree Association. So most Christmas trees travel long distances, which requires burning fossil fuels like gasoline and diesel that release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Carbon dioxide is the chief greenhouse gas that scientists say causes climate change. Trees also need water to grow, and to prolong their life when they are placed in a home or building. Further, natural trees are typically fertilized with nitrogen and phosphate. Most are protected by fungicides and herbicides, such as glysophate, the main active ingredient in the Roundup brand of weed killer. Herbicides can contaminate groundwater, surface water, and soil. Real trees have to be disposed of each year.
Transporting a tree to a landfill uses gas, and its placement in a landfill also causes methane emissions which some landfills capture to generate electricity. The trees also release carbon dioxide as they break down in the landfill. Trees are often incinerated, a process that can release more carbon dioxide, but also helps generate electricity depending on the type of facility.Please refresh the page and retry.
With Christmas only a few weeks away not sure how that happened, but here we are again it's time to buy a Christmas tree. Common sense would tell us that choosing a faux tree is the better choice ecologically, rather than chopping down a beautiful real one, but is that actually the case? The tradition of picking it out with family can't be beaten. And of course they look real, because they are. The fragrance - let's not forget the divine pine scent that only comes with the real deal.
Environmentally friendly - Christmas trees are grown on what are essentially farms, so you're not ripping one out of a natural woodland or forest, and most farmers will plant another in the place of every fully grown tree that is cut down, so they're sustainable too.
Recyclable - when Christmas is over, rather than end up in landfill sites, real trees can be recycled. Then you're allergic and should probably avoid a real tree.
Carbon footprint - if you buy a real tree that's been imported then there'll be a significantly higher carbon footprint than with a locally grown tree. No pine needle mess - no need to be constantly vacuuming up stray pine needles with an artificial tree, plus there's less chance of someone in your family having an allergic reaction which can put a dent in the festive fun.
Fake trees are made from plastic and metal which take a lot of energy to produce and it's yet more synthetic waste to be disposed of. Offsetting will take time - in fact you would need to use your artificial tree for ten years for it to offset its carbon footprint Whether you go for real or fake, and for whatever your reasons, make it as eco-friendly as possible with our tips below.
If you want a tree that's certified as organic and pesticide-free, get one that's approved by the Soil Association. Green fingered? Then buy a potted Christmas tree with roots. This will allow you to grow it outside and then reuse it again year after year.
This reduces the environmental impact and will cost you less. It will need some looking after and nurturing, of course, and you'll need a big enough pot and garden Renting a living tree gives you the best of all worlds. It's got all the authentic festive joy you want, it's a sustainable option and there's little hassle as it will be delivered to your door and then collected after Christmas is over too.
It's hard to find one that's per cent PVC free so choose a tree made with as much PE polyethylene as possible. This is a safer plastic which is used to create the most realistic faux pine needles so it's a win on both counts. For more Christmas features and gift guides, see www. We urge you to turn off your ad blocker for The Telegraph website so that you can continue to access our quality content in the future. Visit our adblocking instructions page.
Telegraph Lifestyle Christmas. Buy a locally grown sustainable tree. Buy a potted tree with roots Green fingered?CNN Like a birthday without cake or a Thanksgiving meal without turkey, Christmas for many people just wouldn't be Christmas without a tree. CNN's Katie Schirmann contributed graphics to this story. Chat with us in Facebook Messenger. Find out what's happening in the world as it unfolds. More Videos Real or fake trees: Which is more green?
Story highlights Organic trees are least damaging to the planet, expert says Re-using plastic trees also can reduce your carbon footprint. In the bewilderingly complex consumer world, it can sometimes be hard to see the woods for the trees when picking the prickly centerpiece of the festive season. Should you choose a fir, pine or a spruce? Or perhaps it's time to try a plastic tree?
Christmas Trees: Real vs. Fake Essay
Buyers have become far more eco-conscious about where their Christmas trees come from and what happens to them come the new year. So, if you're feeling angelic and don't want to end up looking like a plum pudding, here are some handy tips on how to have a Christmas that's green as well as white.
Which is more environmentally friendly -- real or artificial? The simple answer is: it depends. Real trees that still have their roots have a negligible carbon footprint. They can be potted, brought inside for the Christmas period and then replanted. Britain's Carbon Trust estimate that a two-meter tall tree that doesn't have roots has a carbon footprint of between 3.
How green is your Christmas tree? Methane has 25 times the potency of carbon dioxideaccording to the US Environmental Protection Agency. The picture for plastic trees isn't so rosy. The Carbon Trust estimates a carbon footprint of around 40 kg CO2e for a two-meter tree, but its beauty is that it can be reused. Someone I know has had their plastic tree for 20 years," Neuberg says. Organic trees make up only a small percentage of the total trees sold.
But for Neuberg it's probably the most ecologically sound choice.
Christmas trees: can a fake really look as good as a real one?
Another good option is to buy an organic tree, she says. In the UK, the Soil Association can tell you where you buy one, and there are other similar organizations elsewhere that can provide such information. For a truly green Christmas there is always the option of doing away with a tree altogether and simply improvising with the plants already in your house. It's something that is familiar to us and adds a real sparkle to the festive season.
Whatever tree -- artificial, real or otherwise -- you showcase in your house this month, ACTA-sponsored research suggests that your carbon footprint should be Scrooge-like.REAL vs fake - it's the annual dilemma facing households at Christmas. Here are the upsides and downsides to the festive centrepiece to help you decide which to opt for this year.
And while a real tree can often be perceived as the worst option for the environment as you're cutting down a tree annually — that isn't the case. Plastic trees, although typically only bought once every few years, come from China, which means they leave a large carbon footprint.
These days it is hard to tell the difference unlike the gaudy offerings of yesteryear. Natural Christmas trees might smell lovely, but they are huge fire hazards. Real trees are flammable and they can transform your festive home into a fiery death trap. Everyone tends to put up their trees up in their own time, but there is actually a correct time to put them up. A lot agree that the beginning of Advent is when the festive period should truly begin, and that includes putting up the tree.
While the term Advent is thrown about quite a lot during the festive period, it doesn't actually mean from December 1 onward. It falls on a different date each year, but always commences on the fourth Sunday before Christmas day.
It means that it can fall as early as November 27 great news for those who can't wait to get the tree upor as late as December 3. Last year it fell on November 28, however, this year it fell on December 2.
It was my favorite holiday tradition. It lasted until I turned 17 then I came home one day and in the living room was a giant fake Christmas tree. My mom said it was better for the environment and better for her budget. Don't use plagiarized sources. One of the biggest arguments against using real trees harms the environment by cutting down trees that turn carbon dioxide into oxygen.
The amount of trees sold each year is far less than the amount growing on U. There are 33 million Christmas trees sold in the United States every year and million Christmas trees growing in the United States. According to the website earth Brown Fake trees are easily reproduced but not in environmentally friendly way.
PVC is a by-product of petroleum which is not a renewable source. Real Christmas trees are grown on farms; fake trees are made in manufacturing plants which use energy to operate. Most of the manufacturing plants are overseas so the trees have shipped to the United States which causes more toxins to be released into the air. There have been some claims made the real trees have pesticides and other toxic chemical residue on them but there is no research showing any significant amounts of harmful chemicals on real trees.
Artificial trees are not biodegradable so they just sit in landfills polluting the environment with toxic chemicals from the PVC. There are organizations that will come and pick it up for you. Then it can be turned into mulch or used in many other ways to help the environment.
Even if a real tree is sent to a landfill or just sits outside in your yard it is made from the earth and will decompose releasing nutrients back into the soil. Dungey Christmas trees can and are grown in all 50 states. A common misconception is that artificial trees are fireproof. They are flame retardant but can only withstand flames for a certain period of time.
When it catches fire an artificial tree burns quickly and releases toxic smoke. There is nothing like a real Christmas tree. Picking one out every year is a great tradition for many families. The smell that comes with them is better than any candle or spray that is out there.
Owning an artificial tree will save you time and money. Buying a real tree every year will save the planet for future generations to celebrate Christmas. Bibliography Brown, Lori. Dungey, Rick.If the surge in sales of artificial trees at John Lewis and other stores signals an attempt by consumers to go green, then they should perhaps think again.
With 8m real trees in the process of being purchased this Christmasthe idea of saving one from the axe might be prompting the move to fake ones this year in the belief that they are more environmentally friendly. But environmentalists and energy analysts would disagree. Take one key product detail of these thousands of artificial trees — they are made of plastic. It is the manufacture of the plastic tree, from oil, which creates most of its carbon footprint; around two thirds, according to Dr John Kazer of the Carbon Trust.
Another quarter is created by the industrial emissions produced when the tree is made. They are also often shipped long distances before arriving in the shop and then your home. Most local authorities now offer a collection service for real trees which they shred and use on gardens and parks — the greenest way to dispose of your real tree. A real tree that is recycled — by chipping — or is kept growing in a pot or the garden, can have negligible or even negative emissions, according to Kazer.
But a 6. When buying a real tree, Friends of the Earth advise to look for one that is locally produced, or at least grown in the UK with a FSC certification to avoid emissions from transporting and importing.Fake or fir? Your Christmas tree's carbon footprint - BBC News
There are now many more opportunities to buy a locally grown tree than in the past. Increasingly trees are being grown for sale in the UK rather than being imported, according to Oliver Kenny of Yorkshire Christmas Trees.
Which Is Better: A Real or Fake Christmas Tree?
Kenny plants more trees than are cut down each year. By reducing the emissions from transporting trees, and recycling them by chipping, real Christmas trees can become climate positive — creating an environment beneficial to removing carbon from the atmosphere. When it comes to disposing of your artificial tree, there are more negative impacts — even if you have kept it 10 years or more. Most fake trees are made of PVC — a plastic which is notoriously difficult if not impossible to get recycled because it requires specialist equipment.
The advice is if you already have an artificial tree, keep it and keep using it — but if it becomes a little bedraggled and artificial is still your thing — opt for a second hand one in order for the plastic to be reused not dumped and to keep the carbon footprint down.
Pot-grown trees — which can be planted out in the garden when Christmas is over or re-potted and used again year after year — are rising in popularity, according to retailers. Pot-grown trees are grown from seed in pots that are then plunged into the ground which — the growers claim — provides a number of benefits. The plant is more stable and due to specially designed holes in the pot it stays cooler and has more consistent root temperatures.
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Rather, what matters is how far you drive to get your evergreen, how you dispose of it and how long you use the artificial tree. That fake trees, which are typically made of plastic and end up in landfills, have essentially the same carbon footprint as something from nature is a hard concept for many to wrap their heads around, Harman said. But nobody does that. The minimal use necessary to make an artificial tree green is about seven years.
Use it for three and a real tree is better, Harman said. You should also pay attention to distance driven and greenery disposal, he added. The winner in terms of disposal is composting in your community. Rick Dungey is the public relations manager for the National Tree Growers Associationan organization for tree growers. They never decompose. Every one we buy is going to end up in the landfill. You have 70 years of water and pesticide consumption. Those have environmental costs, too.
If you have an artificial tree, keep it in the family for at least a decade. If you want a real tree, try to get one nearby to where you live and recycle or compost it. Check your parks department for information about local programs. Recently Searched. Asia Pacific. Middle East. Toggle Menu. Back to Menu. All sections. Countdown to Christmas.
At a Glance There's not a huge difference in the environmental impact of buying a real or fake Christmas tree.