How to Have a Green Christmas


Every Christmas many are faced with a major decision: decorate their home with a fresh, real Christmas tree or purchase an imported, artificial tree.

Contrary to popular belief, you’re not doing the planet a favor by purchasing an artificial Christmas tree. In no way are real trees being saved by the purchase of an artificial tree.  In fact, you’re actually damaging the environment.

According to a study performed by an environmental consulting firm in Montreal, an artificial tree has to be reused for at least 20 years to be greener than purchasing a real tree annually. The average family only uses their artificial tree for 6-10 years.

Why are real trees the greener way to decorate?

Real trees are renewable: When a tree is cut down, another tree can be grown to replace it. For every Christmas tree harvested, 1 to 3 seedlings are planted the following spring. 

Real trees are recyclable: After the season, Christmas trees can be used for birdhouses, mulch, and fuel chips. Have a look at all the recycling options and tips from the National Christmas Tree Association. Artificial trees are made from non-biodegradable plastic, meaning they can’t be recycled. After those 6-10 years of use, most sit in a landfill for centuries. There are more than 4,000 recycling programs in the United States.

Real trees support life: Trees absorb carbon dioxide as well as other gases, and emit oxygen. Most fake trees contain polyvinyl chloride –PVC-which produces carcinogens that can cause liver cancer or developmental problems during manufacturing and disposal. The PVC can also be a potential source of hazardous lead. While real Christmas trees filter smug and dust from the air.

Real trees preserve green space: Often times, Christmas trees are grown on soil that can’t support other crops, utilizing space that would otherwise serve no purpose. Learn about the National Christmas Association’s Project Evergreen.

Real trees provide shelter: Real Christmas trees provide a comfortable habitat for a variety of wildlife.

There are close to 350 million Christmas trees growing in the United States alone, while 80 percent of artificial trees are manufactured in China. The United States real Christmas tree industry employees over 100,000 people.  

No matter how hard people try to convince themselves, an artificial tree will never look like, feel like, or smell like a real Christmas tree.  Real Christmas trees help the environment and the economy.

We share additional tips for a green Christmas on our Eco-Friendly Pinterest board.  

Be green this holiday season and purchase a real Christmas tree from an MCTA farm. Find a choose and cut farm, retail lot, or wholesale lot near you.


Photo Credit: MCTA Member Korson’s Tree Farm

Sources: National Christmas Tree Association, NY Times, CNN Money, Smithsonian

Amy Start
Author: Amy Start