Environment

Are Fake Christmas Trees Really Better Than the Real Ones?

December 3rd 2016

By:
Laura Donovan

For those who celebrate Christmas, having a tree is a significant part of the holiday experience.

 

Nearly 80 percent of people use fake trees for Christmas, according to a report by Boston's public radio station WBUR in December 2014. Some people argue that they buy fake Christmas trees because they believe that it's a more environmentally-friendly decision.

But where do these fake trees come from?

The majority of artificial trees are made in China, according to a 2004 ABC News analysis by Gary Langer

Fake trees are marketed by Walmart as an easy option for people who don't want to buy a new tree every year or have the "mess or maintenance of the real thing" (frosted trees, however, have gotten some complaints that the frost falls off, according to a November 2016 report from The Telegraph).

In December 2010, a woman named Kim Jones told The New York Times that her fake tree, which was produced in China, would last her for ten years and save 10 real trees from being cut down.

Not everyone is sold on the idea that fake trees are more environmentally conscious than real ones.

The environment consulting firm Ellipsos released a study in 2009 concluding that "the artificial tree, which has a life span of six years, has three times more impact on climate change and resource depletion than the natural tree," Mother Jones reported in December 2012. An artificial tree would have to be used for at least 20 years for it to be the more environmentally friendly choice, the study found, which looked at trees that were made in China or chopped down in Canada.

The firm's founder, Jean-Sebastien Trudel acknowledged in an interview with the New York Times that long drives to get a real Christmas tree could create more carbon emissions but that natural trees are still the best option.

Getting a real Christmas tree will help the economy. 

"While [real] trees are growing they consume large amounts of carbon dioxide (greenhouse gases that are warming our planet), produce oxygen, prevent soil erosion, capture and reduce storm water runoff that can cause stream flooding, and provide habitat and winter cover for many wildlife species," urban forester Vincent Cotrone wrote in a December 2012 piece for Penn State University's extension program website

"Better yet, they keep local working farms alive and profitable." 

Cotrone added that going to a local Christmas tree farm ultimately helps "our economy and our environment."  

ATTN: has reached out to the National Christmas Tree Association and the American Christmas Tree Association for information on the production of fake trees and will update this piece if we hear back.

Watch ATTN:'s video below on the environmental impact of artificial trees: