Real or Artificial Christmas Trees? A Look at Environmental Impact.

A new study from the American Christmas Tree Association looks at the environmental impact of artificial trees versus real trees.  Spokesperson Patrick Harbison says the study shows that artificial trees have a more favorable effect on the environment if reused for at least five years.  Listen to his iHeartRadio interview below.


The study takes into account multiple aspects of the procurement of both  types of trees based on the same size comparisons of 6.5 feet.   Artificial trees were looked at for factors such as manufacturing and  overseas transportation.  Planting, fertilizing and watering were taken into account for real trees, which have an  approximate field cultivation period of 7-8 years.   The study evaluated  various end of life options including landfilling, composting and  incineration at the end of their usage.  When comparing the life cycles of the two trees on an annual basis, meaning that each  type of tree is used and disposed of within one year, the real tree was  found to have a more favorable environmental impact.  However, the study  notes that if an artificial tree is reused over the course of approximately five years, the artificial tree has a  more favorable environmental impact.  In either instance there’s the  environmentally significant issue of “tree miles” – essentially how many  miles the tree traveled to get to a consumer – which includes transporting both types of tree from factory or field  to the point of sale and the consumer’s personal travel to purchase the  tree.   

To view an animated video explaining the LCA study findings, click here

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