Real vs. Artificial: Choosing the Perfect [Green] Tree

It’s perhaps the most recognizable symbol of the upcoming holiday season. From our homes to our very own campus, the holiday tree encompasses the traditions we’ve grown up with.

Maybe your family goes out each season in search of the perfect real, or artificial, tree.  Whether this journey takes you to a tree farm, lot or super store, there are some things you might want to consider while searching for that tree. For instance, what is the environmental impact of the tree? And if you’ve already purchased the perfect tree, keep these things in mind for the next holiday season.

Artificial Trees



  • Buying an artificial tree tends to save time and money when you’re simply picking it up from the store.
  • There isn’t a recurring expense associated with buying a real tree each season.
  • Most artificial trees today are made with metal and a non-biodegradable, petroleum-derived plastic. So, even if you get many years of use out of your tree, once it’s put into the landfill, it’ll stay there for hundreds of years.
  • Most of these artificial trees are made in other countries and then shipped to the US, greatly increasing transportation impacts on the environment.
  • Some may also think they’re doing the environment a favor by not cutting down a real tree. But according to an environmental consulting firm in Montreal, an artificial tree would have to be used for more than 20 years to be greener than buying a fresh tree annually.

Real Trees



  • Trees in general, do wonders for our environment. A single holiday tree absorbs more than 1 ton of CO2 in its lifetime. An acre of trees provides enough oxygen for the daily needs of 18 people.
  • Real trees can be recycled.You can grind up your tree and use it for mulch in your yard. Or, once it’s done serving a purpose for holiday décor, you can put it in your backyard as winter shelter for wildlife.
  • Many trees are sprayed down with pesticides. Just as pesticides can remain on the food we eat, so do they on holiday trees. If you want to ensure your tree is pesticide-free, do a little research before buying.

With the holiday tree being such a well-known symbol, it’s important to consider just what that beautiful tree is doing to the environment. So whether it’s artificial or real, try to do what you can to keep the environment – and holidays – a little greener.

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