Real vs Artificial {Living Green}

Real vs ArtificialReal vs Artificial ~ For many years I felt guilty buying a real tree. I felt I was, in essence, killing a living thing and depleting a much needed natural resource.  Deep down I knew most, if not all, tree growers practiced a one out, one in system to ensure a constant supply of trees, but, I was still racked with guilt.

Every Dec 26th as I drove by the abandoned tree lots, as I gazed upon the unwanted and unloved carcasses left lying in the snow…I had to cover my ears in an attempt to drown out their mournful cries.

Apparently however, instead of feelings of guilt I should have been experiencing pride for making the environmentally correct choice…who knew??

Real vs Artificial

Photo attribution: (CC)

Until I started researching this “ethical dilemma” of mine, I was beginning to lean toward an artificial tree. After all, they are re-used every year and don’t generate the waste of their “real” cousins.

However, what I didn’t realize was artificial trees are made with polyvinyl chloride (PVC), one of the most environmentally offensive forms of non-renewable, petroleum derived plastic.  Also, during the production phase of PVC, several known carcinogens, including dioxin, ethylene dichloride and vinyl chloride are generated.

While there seems to be, for many, no definitive answer to the real versus artificial question, it is clear that many environmentalists feel real trees are the better choice.

In the most comprehensive study of the perennial real vs. fake question, an environmental consulting firm in Montreal found that an artificial tree would have to be reused for more than 20 years to be greener than buying a fresh-cut tree annually. The calculations included greenhouse gas emissions, use of resources and human health impacts.

“The natural tree is a better option,” said Jean-Sebastien Trudel, founder of the firm, Ellipsos, which  released the independent study last year. {1}

With all of that being said I guess the most eco-friendly option is to have no tree or to purchase a live tree with its roots intact from a local grower and then replant it in your yard when Christmas is over. (For those of us that have cold winters, better dig that hole before the frost is four feet deep.)

What about you… real or fake?

Much of the factual information contained in this post was accessed from the following websites:




  1. If it wasn’t for the difficulty my husband has, in going out to cut down a real tree, which has been our family tradition, we may just have continued with a real tree after 42 years. I agree that a real tree is environmentally better, but his dignity is more important, for this year anyway. We’ll see come next year!!
    Myotonic Dystrophy-Our Family’s Journey

  2. I’ve had my artificial tree for about 10 years and I have no plans to replace it. This is interesting news to me though because I always thought artificial was the more environmentally friendly choice. I guess when I’m ready for a new tree I’m going to have to buy a smaller one in a pot!

  3. Maegan Morin says:

    Its real all the way for me. Unfortunately I have a fake tree from when I used to live in an apartment however my husband grew up with a real tree and he insists that we have one every year. We cut ours down from the forest but I plant a new one in the same area in the spring.

    • Planting a new tree in the area is a wonderful thing to do Maegan! Hope you have a wonderful Christmas and enjoy your real tree…we just put ours up today {It’s not yet decorated…lol…that’s for tomorrow!!}

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