Being electric vehicle drivers, we care very much about the environmental impact our driving has on the community around us. Now that the holiday season is upon us, we wanted to break down a popular holiday tradition: the Christmas tree.
In a consumer survey conducted around 2018 by Nielsen, it was found that 75% of American households display a tree every holiday season. However, the vast majority of those, around 80 percent, are reported to be artificial rather than live trees that were cut down.
Let's discuss the pros and cons of getting a real or a man-made Christmas tree, and how you can celebrate the holidays more sustainably.
Artificial Tree Sustainability Pro: You Can Reuse it!
Artificial Christmas trees are popular in the United States because of its primary benefit: it can be reused year after year. "Fake" Christmas trees can be stored with your holiday decorations in a shed or attic, with some even being sophisticated enough to be broken down or flattened for easy storage options.
Artificial Tree Sustainability Con: They're often made of non-recyclable materials or plastic.
Artificial trees are rarely biodegradable, and usually come from overseas. The artificial bushes are usually made of some kind of metal or plastic, and the cost and resources to get them on mainland usually render these trees to be quite impactful on the environment every year. Even if they do happen to last you 10 years before breaking, they will more than likely end up taking up space in a landfill somewhere.
Real Tree Sustainability Con: Millions of trees are cut down due to consumerism around Christmas trees every year.
Usually coming from Christmas tree farms, trees are planted for the sake of selling them to consumers rather than growing trees to continue to create the clean air we breathe every day. In a sense, these farms take up space from trees that could exist for centuries rather than being chopped down for customers.
Some climate scientists argue that the financial incentives to plant trees can backfire and actually reduce biodiversity, all while providing very little impact on carbon emissions rates overall. However, others argue that real trees do help the environment a bit with their farming every year.
Real Tree Sustainability Pro: Most people shop locally for a Real Christmas Tree, which reduces emissions in shipping.
While most artificial plastic trees come from overseas, those who shop for a real tree usually stop by a local Christmas tree farm or hardware store to pick theirs up. These trees usually come from within a 50 mile radius, which is much more sustainable to transport than using emissions to fly them overseas from countries such as China.
Our Verdict: Real Christmas Trees are the more eco-conscious choice, but artificial trees (when high quality and reused) aren't awful, either.
Having the option to reuse a Christmas tree every year is an attractive quality for most American consumers when shopping for holiday decorations for their home. The most sustainable choice would be to visit a local Christmas tree farm to get a real tree, as it is biodegradable and will not take up space in a landfill for years on end.
However, if you opt to buy an artificial tree, we recommend buying a high-quality tree as an investment that will last you for over a decade, searching for a plastic-free option, or choosing one that was made in the United States rather than made and shipped from somewhere overseas.