These Are the Most Eco-Friendly Christmas Trees, According to Experts

published Dec 18, 2021
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Christmas trees are a big part of holiday decor, and there’s nothing like choosing out your perfect tree to get you in the festive mood. If your tree isn’t already picked out, decorated with ornaments, and lit up in your living room, with one week to go until Dec. 25, there’s still time to choose the best option for you *and* the planet.

Brightly’s mission is to empower conscious consumers around the globe so, in its latest study, a team of experts compared five of the most popular types of Christmas trees to find out which is the most and least sustainable option.

Each tree type was given a rating out of 20 points based on materials and production, longevity and disposal. overall environmental impact, and accessibility. Each category is scored from 1 to 5, with 1 being the least eco-friendly and 5 being the most eco-friendly. 

From artificial Christmas trees to modern wood trees, read on to find out the most eco-friendly Christmas tree.

5. Artificial trees

Total Score: 9/20
Materials and Production: 1/5
Longevity and Disposal: 3/5
Overall Environmental Impact: 1/5
Accessibility: 4/5

Unsurprisingly, artificial trees came in at number 5, scoring nine out of 20 in Brightly’s rating system. According to the experts, you would need to reuse your artificial tree for a minimum of 10 Christmases to keep its environmental impact lower than a real tree. And on average, Americans only keep artificial trees for six years.

Credit: Bilkei

4. Modern wood trees

Total Score: 11/20
Materials and Production: 3/5
Longevity and Disposal: 3/5
Overall Environmental Impact: 2/5
Accessibility: 3/5

Modern wood Christmas trees are made out of—you guessed it—wood. While wood is a natural, raw, and reusable material, there is extra processing involved to transform it into home decorations, according to Brightly. Additionally, mass-manufactured wood trees may utilize a significant amount of resources, decreasing their sustainability levels.

3. Rental trees

Total Score: 15/20
Materials and Production: 5/5
Longevity and Disposal: 5/5
Overall Environmental Impact: 4/5
Accessibility: 1/5

Did you know that you can rent a Christmas tree? Third on Brightly’s list, these trees return to nature after the holidays. While renting a Christmas tree for the holidays may seem like an easier, fuss-free option, rental farms aren’t widely available.

Credit: Alita Ong/Stocksy

2. Houseplant trees

Total Score: 16/20
Materials and Production: 5/5
Longevity and Disposal: 5/5
Overall Environmental Impact: 3/5
Accessibility: 3/5

If you live in a smaller space, you may have to get extra creative with your holiday decor. That’s why turning your houseplant into a festive Christmas tree is a great idea. Plants that work well as a Christmas tree double include Norfolk Island Pine, Dwarf Alberta Spruce, and Weeping Fig.

Credit: mentlastore

1. Live trees

Total Score: 17/20
Materials and Production: 5/5
Longevity and Disposal: 3/5
Overall Environmental Impact: 5/5
Accessibility: 4/5

Coming out on top are live Christmas trees, scoring a sustainability rating of 17 out of 20. According to Brightly,  It’s estimated that up to 500 million trees are grown on tree farms across the U.S. every year, yet only 30 million are cut down for Christmas. For every tree bought, farmers plant between one and three seedlings to replace them. Once you’re done with your real Christmas tree, make sure you follow proper disposal protocol.