I have to admit it – I’ve always thought artificial Christmas trees were stupid. But I’m a man of the 21st century, and I wondered what kind of environmental impact came about through all that chopping. Well, thank you to Trucost for at least slightly absolving me of whatever guilt I feel for buying a real Christmas tree every year. According to Trucost research, artificial Christmas trees are six to ten times more environmentally costly than real Christmas trees. But as with all statistics, there is more to the story. One fact is that most of us real tree people end up purchasing many natural trees over our lifetimes of Christmas revelry.


If someone buys an attractive, durable artificial tree, they may use the same tree over many years. In addition, according to the research, some artificial trees come from highly efficient and better managed production plants that use recycled materials and good practices in emission and waste management.

Meanwhile, tree farm operations may include harvesting with helicopters, cold storage and use of other energy consuming equipment, and they may use aggressive pest removal techniques and artificial irrigation practices depending on local weather. The species, geography, farming and cultivation methods, soil type and other variables have to be taken into account. For me, environmental awareness isn’t enough to sacrifice the joy of picking out a real tree, and occasionally cutting one down myself.

So what are our options? Well, there is the re-plantable Christmas tree, purchasing from local suppliers and buying domestic trees that come from a reputable tree farm with environmentally sound practices - these should all be high on the list. Sorry, fake plastic trees – you’ll never get my love. And now that I know that the methods I can use to purchase my trees can actually make me greener than my know-it-all neighbor and his obsession with artificial crap, I can feel even better about buying a real tree.


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