This has been an Apartment Therapy debate for some years now, and it inevitably comes up again with all the holiday postings. I'm embarrassed to admit that I haven't given much thought to the environmental reasons on why I chose one tree over another (fake or real) yet I consider myself a relatively environmentally conscious person. After a bit of research I've put together some general pros and cons:
Real Tree Pros:
1. Relatively local transportation to ensure fresh delivery
2. Trees absorb carbon dioxide during their life, especially at a very young age
Real Tree Cons:
1. Yes they are recyclable, but it's not easy! Do you have a mulcher?
2. Watering use during the raising of young trees
3. Pesticides used on tree farms
Artificial Tree Pros:
1. Artificial trees can be re-used for many, many years (although one researcher pointed out that it takes twenty years for an artificial tree's carbon footprint to match the footprint of a real tree)
2. Ease of use. No watering, no recycling, no vacuuming needles
3. They have come a long way and look as good and sometimes better than the real thing. Plus without the natural elements, people with allergies can enjoy indoor trees too!
Artificial Tree Cons:
1. Most are made with PVC and chemicals that are harmful to people and the environment
2. They are not bio-degradable
3. 85% are transported from China, an additional environmental factor
Bottom line: There are pros and cons to both. The hassle of attempting to attach the tree to my car and recycling it afterward, in addition to household members with allergies steers me towards the fake option. However, the PVC and chemicals in the artificial tress don't have me eager to invite that fake tree back into my living room! What about alternatives to a tree altogether? Can a home feel like Christmas without the 'big green' guy making an appearance? Food for thought as I continue my holiday decorating!
Related: Real Christmas Trees "Greener" than Artificial
Sources: National Christmas Tree Association