Real vs. Fake Christmas Tree: Which Option is the Most Eco-Friendly, Safe, and Affordable?

Real vs. Fake Christmas Tree
Photo: Jeff J. Mitchell/ Staff/Getty Images

The countdown to Christmas has begun and people are wondering if it is better to get a real or fake Christmas tree. If you’re wondering which option is the safest, most affordable and eco-friendly, we’ve compiled a pros and cons list to help you decide.

Christmas day is less than a month away and with winter just around the corner, people are getting excited for all the holiday preparations! Families are beginning to plan and organize Christmas dinners, people are heading to the malls and shopping online for the best gifts for their loved ones, and households are decorating their houses as they listen to Christmas music. Television stations are gearing up for holiday-themed movies and shows, trees outside are being decorated with lights, and the fresh smell that comes before the snowfall is hovering in the air. With all these wonderful aspects of Christmas in our midst, people are also picking out their Christmas trees. It has been a life-long question as to whether it’s better to have a real vs. fake Christmas tree. Visiting Christmas tree farms is a special tradition for many families, while others prefer the hassle-free artificial tree option. Which tree is the best? What are the pros and cons of either choice? We’ve compiled a list to help you decide which option is best for you.

Real vs. Fake Christmas Trees—Which One to Choose?

Many people believe that using an artificial tree is better for the environment because it can be reused. However, several researchers have discovered that the impact on the environment as fake trees decompose, is actually much more harmful than when a real tree rots away! Check out our list below for some important facts to consider so you can make the best decision for your family.

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Type of TreeProsCons
RealFresh pine scent, authentic textureFlammable when dried out.
Smaller carbon footprint than an artificial Christmas treeHigher risk of insects being brought into the home.
Great family tradition to choose a real tree that suits your home perfectly.Harder to maintain—needles drop and tree needs watering.
Nowadays, most real trees come from Christmas tree farms, grown locally, which supports local farmers.Unfortunate idea that trees are cut down for aesthetic or festive purposes
Trees can be used after the season as mulch to feed other plants or other environmentally friendly uses.Some contain pesticides and herbicides to keep insects away (harmful chemicals to have in your home, around children). Some pesticides have been banned for use on trees intended for indoor use.
ArtificialMore affordable than a real tree. Reusable for many years.Needs to be used for at least 6-10 Christmases to keep its carbon footprint lower than a real tree.
No messy needles to clean up.Creates more waste when it ends up in a landfill. As it decomposes, it produces methane gas, which is 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
Safer for people with allergies.Contain harmful chemicals and material such as lead, phthalates, etc.
Artificial pre-lit trees are another great option—saves time, looks great.Releases harmful chemicals if and when burned.
Flame retardant, which makes it safe for airports, homes, hospitals and universities.Made of plastic, which comes from oil. Negatively impacts the environment by how it is manufactured. Carbon footprint equal to 40kg of greenhouse gas emissions. Avoid PVCs.

Most sources seem to nod towards choosing a real tree. To the surprise of many, the production, materials, and decomposition of artificial trees do much more damage to humans and nature, than a natural tree does. Plus, you won’t be getting that irresistible pine scent either. Our conclusion is, go with the authentic tree. It’s a fun family tradition to drive over to your local Christmas tree farm, choose your very own, and enjoy the smell of the pine needles as you decorate it with your loved ones. Instead of putting yourself at the risk of chemicals and materials you’re unsure of, go with the beautiful tree that comes straight from the earth. Have a happy holiday!

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