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Which is better for the environment: an artificial Christmas tree or a natural one?

29 Comments
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A natural one is obviously better but the mess from falling pine needles is pretty serious!

3 ( +11 / -8 )

Having to be indoors seems to be part of the problem. A natural one growing in a pot for this year, which can be re-planted and grown outside, so not an indoors feature from next year onwards. That would be better for my environmental health, in an ideal world.

In the meantime I will continue to use the token mini tree in a box that someone found in a jumble sale many years ago. Plug and play. We seem to have various other sets in the drawers ready for different festivals throughout the year.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

An artificial, plastic tree obviously has its drawbacks (it's plastic), but it has the advantage that it can be used year after year after year. I think our current tree is pushing on 20 years now and still going strong.

Natural trees are, obviously, natural..... which would seem to be a plus in environmental terms. But if they have to be replaced every year because most folk aren't very good at keeping them healthy through the summer, then that's an awful lot of land being devoted to crops of Christmas trees when it could be used to grow food, or better still left natural for wildlife.

Sanjinosebleed raises an important point; the pine needles all over the place not only make a mess, they get inside pet cats and dogs and make an even greater mess when they reappear.

On the whole, I think artificial, used year after year, is probably better, though it seems counter-intuitive.

Invalid CSRF

9 ( +12 / -3 )

It takes about 6-10 years to grow a Christmas tree. So to produce your natural tree you've basically used up several square metres of land for 6-10 years. Do that every year and it adds up.

Not sure what the footprint of an artificial tree is, but I'm guessing that if you use one for a few years (I've seen 10 years cited as a figure) it would probably balance out and then be less harmful.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

According to the Carbon Trust, a 6.5ft artificial tree is responsible for about 40kg of greenhouse gas emissions – which means you need to reuse it for about 10 Christmases to keep its environmental impact lower than buying a real tree every year, depending on the materials used in the fake tree.

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2021/dec/04/real-or-fake-christmas-tree-sustainable-environment

3 ( +6 / -3 )

It takes about 6-10 years to grow a Christmas tree. So to produce your natural tree you've basically used up several square metres of land for 6-10 years. Do that every year and it adds up.

But young trees will grow closer together than older trees. So if you plant a forest of trees close together, and after a few years remove about half the trees for Christmas trees (i.e. fell every second row), and leave the others to reach a suitable age for regular timber needs, is it so wasteful?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

According to the Carbon Trust, a 6.5ft artificial tree is responsible for about 40kg of greenhouse gas emissions – which means you need to reuse it for about 10 Christmases to keep its environmental impact lower than buying a real tree every year, depending on the materials used in the fake tree.

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2021/dec/04/real-or-fake-christmas-tree-sustainable-environment

There are always several factors forgotten in those kind of studies :

real trees are often grown with pesticides, require water and sometimes artificial light

real trees transform whole regions into a monoculture area preventing biodiversity

real trees are cut with growing, when they catch a lot of CO2 from the atmosphere

real trees have to be picked up by customer and then thrown every year and processed, all that implies transportation while the artificial one is taking out from the closet
3 ( +5 / -2 )

Thanks Strangerland, informative. So my plastic tree that has been in use for 36 years isn’t as environmentally unfriendly as I might have thought!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I use only natural trees and that's the end of that.

-3 ( +8 / -11 )

Couldn't vote as I never bought a tree. I just get some of the discarded trimmings at the tree-sellers and put them in a nice vase. They smell nice, are natural and would have got thrown away anyway.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

here have combination of natural one/in garden/ and artificial one/to be used inside of house/.

so yes for enviroment is better to use artificial one as since its used few days a yesr-can last for decades.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

And what are the input parameters for growing trees or making artificial ones? Only then can the question be answered.

And from what point of view? In terms of energy required for growth or production?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The environment had nothing artificial in it until humans came around.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Had my tree for going on 20 years as well, so I'd say artificial in my case. I can't even imagine how you'd go about disposing of a real tree here. Do you have to chop it up after Christmas and fit it all into plastic bags?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

How to dispose of your dead pine tree.Japan Apple farmers burn pinewood saw dust to ash then spread the ash around the base of their apple trees in early spring. Their a good use of your dead Xmas tree.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Trees are biodegradable and purify the air... I thought the ecological thing was to get rid of plastic?

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

natural trees are better, but this is japan, so artificial trees seem to be the norm here...

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Artificial Christmas tree is the way to go. Doesn't have to be replaced every year. You'll also save money and the environment.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

I'll tell you how you don't dispose of a natural Christmas tree (as I learned the hard way). You DON'T let it get all dried out and then you REALLY DONT put it in the fire place that already has a fire with the doors open (Couldn't get them shut). Flames jetted out of the grate a good 6 feet and I was pretty sure the house was going to burn down.

But I do not know where to GET a real tree in Japan, much less dispose of one. And like you guys, my artificial one is bumping up on 20 years now with no problems.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Well, it’s neck and neck in this most important of issues.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

We obviously need virtual trees so people can wander around the house with 3D googles on, or how about a Christmas tree hologram?

Why spend a little when you can spend a lot? Let’s get with the spirit of Christmas spending.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Hard to tell. Taking natural trees does not necessarily mean the deforestation while artificial ones are made out of plastic/fossil materials and chemicals. In some regions and countries forests are well-managed and productions are sustainable.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

None of them..

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

I love a real Christmas tree because it smells amazing but I wonder how one would even go about disposing of it in Japan. Where I'm from there are are dedicated Christmas tree recycling centers you can bring your tree to after the hols.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Using hairspray helps to hold needles onto a cut tree,even less eco-friendly,though.

I found a Douglas Fir singing tree on ebay,sent it to my Mum.Frightening.

I made a snowman from beach rubbish such as huge blocks of polystyrene.Totally rad.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The answer is neither. The new new is virtual trees, you can add to the effect by dousing your room with pinesol disinfectant and eliminate germs at the same time

0 ( +0 / -0 )

As always, a natural person but for the first time, it's artificial this time.

Ever since i watched Japanese movie 'Wood Job', I love trees.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Natural Christmas trees clean the air as they grow. When we are finished with it we take it to a charity to chip it up to make mulch for fertilizer. On top of that the charity makes money. A plastic tree is just plastic that eventually end up in the garbage.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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