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Real Christmas Trees Are Green

Not everyone likes the idea of sacrificing a living tree for the sake of celebrating a holiday, but it doesn't change the fact that trees harvested for the Christmas tree industry are a renewable and sustainable resource. In an effort to dispel some of the biggest and most long standing misconceptions consumers have about Christmas trees, The National Christmas Tree Association recently launched what is calls the "Great De-Myth-ification Campaign." Here are four "green" facts about Christmas trees they want you to know.


Real Christmas Trees are Not Cut From Forests

This may have been the case at one time, but not anymore. The vast majority of real Christmas trees come from tree farms. What's the exception? The Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service issue a limited number of "Cut Your Own" permits each year in National forests throughout the United States. Of the 30-35 million real Christmas trees sold in the U.S. each year, the number of trees not grown on tree farms amounts to only a few thousand.

You Don't Save a Real Tree by Using a Fake One

There are 21,000 Christmas tree growers in the United States. Trees are an agricultural crop in an industry that provides jobs for more than 100,000 people. For the 30-35 million harvested and sold each year, 40-45 million new Christmas trees are planted.


Using a Fake Tree Does Not Save Resources

Manufacturing a fake Christmas tree uses far more natural resources than are needed to produce a living tree. In fact, eighty-five percent of fake trees are manufactured in and shipped to the United States from China. They are made from plastics, PVC, metals and contain petroleum by-products (non-renewable resources). On the flip side, live trees are grown and shipped within the United States (often locally), they are a renewable resource, and they produce oxygen, remove carbon dioxide from the air and provide a home for wildlife while they grow.

Live Trees Reduce the Amount of Waste In Our Landfills

Christmas trees are 100% biodegradable, and according to the University of Iowa, ninety-three percent of real Christmas tree consumers recycle their tree in community recycling programs, or use them in their garden or backyards for mulch, compost, or winter protection. Recycled trees have been used to make sand and soil erosion barriers and placed in ponds for fish shelter. Fake trees are used an average of 6 to 9 years before ending up in a landfill. Unlike real trees, they do not biodegrade, they cannot be recycled, and they last for centuries in a landfill.

About The Author: Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services. Contact her on the web at

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December 17, 20090 found this helpful

It sounds nice, but my husband is very allergic to the natural trees. So, for us, it's an artificial tree, or it's nothing. If it weren't for that, I'd give natural a try.

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December 18, 20090 found this helpful

If you are going to have a Christmas tree, why not buy a live tree planted in a pot? After the holiday is over, you could plant it in your yard or offer it to a local park or something to plant there. This actually seems like the best option.

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December 20, 20090 found this helpful

Ellen, thank you for putting this together. People need to be reminded that some trees are grown especially to be cut down. Every time I hear the phrase "killing trees" when someone is talking about using paper, I cringe. As with Christmas trees, the trees used for paper are grown on tree farms especially for that purpose. No one is cutting down the California redwoods to make toilet paper.

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December 20, 20090 found this helpful

True, they're not cutting the Calif. Redwood trees down to make toilet paper, but they're cutting too many of them down to make patio furniture. I'm with crazyliblady: the best option of all if you absolutely just have to have a Christmas tree at all is to buy a live one and plant it outside after the holidays.

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December 21, 20090 found this helpful

Yep, I just bought my live tree for $12 and will plant it right after new years in my yard. I bought some LED lights for it but did not decorate it, I like the natural look of the season and don't want to spoil the look of the beautiful tree with decorations. Best decision I ever made. Years before I just never got a tree and put lights in my larger plants :)

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