With all this snow coming our way, it is hard not to start thinking about the holidays. In this blog post we discuss the environmental impact of real Christmas trees vs. artificial ones. Maybe this is something your family has thought a lot about or maybe you haven't - we're here to provide you all information you need when deciding this season.
The short answer is a real tree has less of an environmental impact than an artificial one. Before you say, it's only because we focus on plastic here at PFGS, that is one reason, but it is actually not as simple as plastic vs. real!
For either option, you should consider how far you drive to get the tree, how you dispose of it when you're done, and for artificial trees how long you are going to use it for.
Artificial trees must be used for many years to make it more environmentally friendly. A study in Montreal figured out that it must be used for over 20 years to make it the more eco-friendly choice.
"The annual carbon emissions associated with using a real tree every year were just one-third of those created by an artificial tree over a typical six-year lifespan." - NY Times
Most fake trees are manufactured in China and create a significant amount of carbon emissions to make and be transported here. Whereas, real trees provide oxygen while they are growing. Did you know that 1 acre of Christmas trees produce enough oxygen for 18 people?
Now you may be thinking, well won't the tree keep producing oxygen if it weren't cut down? Yes, but most of the real trees you see for sale were planted for the holidays and would be cut anyways.
As mentioned at the beginning of this blog, the number of kilometres driven to get a tree should be considered. We are lucky in Sudbury to be close to Freskiw Farms, a farm that grows hundreds of trees every year! If you buy from them not only are you reducing your plastic but also supporting local farmers, which is a bonus!
If you decide that a fake tree is still the best option for you and your family consider buying one second-hand rather than new. We have been seeing many for sale on Facebook Marketplace and Kijiji for as low as $20!
Once the holidays are over and it is time to take down your real tree, consider how you may be able to repurpose your tree before disposing it. Here is another blog post that has 8 green alternatives to tossing you tree - some include using it for firewood, mulch, or returning it to the seller.
When you are completely done with your tree, the City of Greater Sudbury will pick it up up at the curb during your normal waste collection day and they are composted!
Another consideration is not having a traditional tree at all. If this is something you are interested in and still want to feel the holiday charm in your house you could make a DIY up cycled tree or decorate a plant you already have. Below are a few favourites.