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What’s better for the environment: a fake Christmas tree or a natural one?

38 Comments
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38 Comments
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I wish there was another option: neither.

7 ( +13 / -6 )

A natural one that you have decorated without chopping down.

We have used a small fake tree for over twenty years, which we switch on for a short time each evening, but then we are not especially 'one-track' when it comes to festive occasions.

Neither of these fits into the tubs, er, boxes above, so I'm leaving them blank. With any luck this poll will raise our consciousness of the environment to further heights!

11 ( +11 / -0 )

I've got a fake one.

I think it depends on a lot of variables. All the production, transport, etc processes that go into making a fake one generate a lot of CO2, more than what is produced by a single real tree being cut down. But if you use the fake tree for many years, eventually it will offset that since you are cumulatively "saving" many real trees over the years.

Another factor though is how the real tree is disposed of. If you feed it through a woodchipper and use its remains on your garden its fairly environmentally friendly. But if you live in Japan the tree will probably be incinerated like most garden waste here is, which just pumps all that CO2 into the atmosphere.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

We used to have a real tree (this was long ago, before The Environment was the thing it is today) until the day I found large amounts of pine needles (and a few bits of tinsel) in a pile of vomit the dog had deposited on the carpet. We decided that a real tree, shedding needles, was not good for our domestic environment.

Since then we've always had a fake one, replaced maybe a couple of times over the years and always put on display well out of reach of canine tongues. Though I do find myself gazing longingly at the real trees in the garden centre each year.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

The theme of a Christmas tree predates back to the days of the pagans when they celebrated the Winter Solstice and used to place some evergreen on a table along with some grains and foods to make thanks.

We always had a Christmas tree in our family when we were children but I haven't had one since. A real one is better because it can be recycled back into the earth or replanted.

But if you live in Japan the tree will probably be incinerated like most garden waste here is, which just pumps all that CO2 into the atmosphere.

You could always chop it up yourself and take it to a riverbank.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

You could always chop it up yourself and take it to a riverbank.

Or I could just keep my fake one and not have to do something that requires me to be dumping something on a riverbank in the middle of January.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Probably a fake one which can be reused. Anecdotally when I lived in California I had a great time trudging into a tree farm and cutting down our tree with my son. Get home and realize that tree seems a lot smaller outside. Then we found all kinds of stuff living in the tree and within a week the damn thing dried out because the sap had hardened.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Basically young samplings used for Christmas for homes are one that are culled to clear out over population within a forest even if they are farmed variety. SO I would really not be worry too much about the environment.

Especially a place like Japan where decorating a Christmas tree within home is not common.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Christmas trees come from farmland specifically allocated for the purpose. As soon as one lot are harvested, new ones are planted or harvest several years hence. So whatever, there will always be a tree in the spot as long as people are buying Christmas trees.

Therefore the critical point is the counterfactual - what would the land be used for otherwise? Hopefully another tree crop, but if not, it could be livestock, such as sheep, which are much worse for the environment.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

A natural tree is better as it promotes planting new tree's each year which is good for the environment.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I put up real trees every year, and on top of it, when the tree is dried out I set it on fire in the field behind my house and enjoy the 30' flames.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I've had the same one for about 20 years, (I guess I got lucky, it still looks good) so I would say if you're like me, a fake tree is better since I think I've more than made up for the 'footprint' from manufacturing it. But real ones can also be recycled into the environment, so I suppose in the long run, it really doesn't matter...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Regardless of what you pick the environmentalists will not be happy. Plastic - petroleum based products Real - you most likely drove (petroleum) someplace and maybe used a gas saw (petroleum) to cut it down. All electric? How do you think the batteries and auto seats and panels are made? Used public transportation? Good luck getting it on board a train.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Fake one

However, my mother always had to have a real one because she loved the fresh scent of pine.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I wouldn’t know but I suppose it might depend on how many years the fake one is reused, and whether the real one is cut, or living in a pot.

We used for more than three decades a stuffed green velvet cone that I made with strings of red beads representing cranberries, silver star spangles, and such sewn on. The ornaments were a variety of homemade items with nostalgic meaning and tiny wooden toys, brass bells from India, and such pinned on in a different arrangement each year.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Oh, and no lights or candles, so no use of electricity or worry about fire.

invalid CSRF

0 ( +0 / -0 )

A stuffed geen velvet cone? Wow!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

We've got a fake one for the kids. I won't let them put it up before Dec 1.

We actually have a fir tree in our garden but it is about 10m high. I'd need a cherry picker truck to decorate it safely, and the decorations would be at the mercy of lots of snow. We also have an abandoned conifer plantation behind our house where I could grab a small tree, but I can't say I've ever noticed a nice bushy one. Just lots of sad looking ones with few branches.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

“A stuffed geen velvet cone? Wow!”

Not sure if you think it’s a good idea or ridiculing it, ha ha. Whatever, to each their own.

I’ll add that it wasn’t particularly large, we used it on top of a table or low cabinet. Even after all those years of use it was in fine shape, we only got rid of it as we were downsizing. Kept all the ornaments though for the time being.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I also have a friend who has a “fake” tree that’s a quilted patchwork wall hanging with various embroidered fabric ornaments sewn on. I think she’s been using it for about 30 years. It also has pockets for treats for the kids, now grandkids.

I also had an uncle who cut a flat piece of wood into a tree shape, nicely rounded all the edges and painted it green. It had cup hooks screwed in here and there to hang the ornaments.

Invalid CSRF

2 ( +2 / -0 )

A fake one made from biodegradable plastics. It's about 4 to 7 seven years to grow a tree that will be used for just 30 to 45 days while a fake tree can be reused and ,if made from bio degradable materials, reintegrated into environment after it has served it's use.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Get one made from Hemp , much better for everyone and the environment.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Depends on disposal. Composted returns everything to the earth, burning releases the co2. Plastic is not a a good idea going forward but if you already have one then keep using it is the most environmentally friendly thing you can do. I have a nice fake one I bought in a discount shop in Cardiff in the mid 80’s. Personaly I would only have it up for the 12 days of Christmas with the lights on only in the evening. Unfortunately “She Who Must Be Obeyed” has other ideas!

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

I remembered the wooden one made by my uncle was used by him and his wife for about ten years until they went into an old folks home. Then the tree went to a local charity thrift shop. Hopefully it’s still being enjoyed by someone somewhere and with any luck could even go on into antiquity and never need to be disposed of.

Invalid CSRF

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I see I'm in the 50% who voted for the natural tree.

We used to have a real tree (this was long ago, before The Environment was the thing it is today) until the day I found large amounts of pine needles (and a few bits of tinsel) in a pile of vomit the dog had deposited on the carpet. 

Thanks for that, cleo!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Fake trees are made in factories made out of plastic and metal, then wrapped in plastic then put in a box. Then it's shipped and trucked to a store, huged environmental impact. Natural trees are grown on tree farms, cut and new trees planted right away. In most countries like in Canada after Christmas the trees are chipped up to be used for gardens, and money raised by the chippers goes to a charity.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

While real trees are nice and give you the natural feeling . . . they may bring insects, aphids and the like into your home, which may in turn attract other insects leading the degradation of your home, and eventually contributing to environmental waste . . . we have had a small imitation tree for probably at least 10 years now which is easy to set up w/ lights etc.  . . . for nature experience we can go to the park where they may have a live tree which is decorated every year . . . .

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Neither. Are trees absolutely necessary for Xmas, given that they are yet another appropriated pagan symbol?

All bah, humbugs aside, I like my neighbors' idea with decorating their outdoor, living tree each year.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I like my neighbors' idea with decorating their outdoor, living tree each year.

But, but, but, if the Christmas tree is outside, what happens if it rains/snows on Christmas Eve? All the prezzies will get soaked/buried!

And the sparrows will eat all the Christmas biscuits. All that spice and sugar can't be good for them.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

A real christmas tree is the pinnacle of christmas. The christmas tree is said to symbolize the norse tree of Yggdrasil, a tree that never sheds its leaves, also known today as an evergreen tree. To replace a natural tree with such a symbolic meaning with a plastic one is disrespectful and straight out rude.

You can always grow new natural trees for each you take, but you can't take away one quota of CO2 for each CO2 you emit during the production of plastic christmas trees.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Real trees become sodai gomi after the holidays. It is more environmentally sound to use a fake tree.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

YuriOtani your 100% wrong fake trees are so bad for the environment. Fake trees are made in factories made out of plastic and metal, then wrapped in plastic then put in a box. Then it's shipped and trucked to a store, huged environmental impact. Natural trees are grown on tree farms, cut and new trees planted right away. In most countries like in Canada after Christmas the trees are chipped up to be used for gardens, and money raised by the chippers goes to a charity..

0 ( +1 / -1 )

It sounds like YuriOtani is referring to the situation in Japan while runner3 is talking about trees being chipped in other countries. Is there any such system in Japan? Are there enough big natural trees being used here to warrant it?

As for fake trees being made of plastic, the poll doesn’t specify the materials or where/how they’re made. As I mentioned in earlier posts a “fake” tree can be made of various materials, and needn’t be made in a factory.

Invalid CSRF

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Regarding the overall benefit of killing a living tree OR buying and using an artificial tree over and over again, there is almost certainly a CO₂ 'bump' after the holiday when all of the precociously dead young trees are disposed of, plus the Carbon required to run tree farms which is not unsubstantial. Growing a tree, sequestering Carbon, may seem the "GREEN" thing to do and, under normal conditions would be a good thing to do. Growing trees as naught but sacrifices to gods which return their Carbon to the atmosphere after only a short residence, plus the CO₂ released in growing these agricultural products year after year, plus transport, plus disposal, plus all of the crap produced to hide the sad wasted trees under kitsch... a highly reusable artificial Christmas ritual offering tree is the sanest option in a set of behaviors otherwise lacking much sanity.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Real plantation grown Christmas trees are more environmentally friendly and sustainable believe it or not because they can be chipped after use and therefore don't fill up the garbage hills.

Once cut, there are other seedlings ready to take over.

https://iloverealtrees.com/why-real/environment/

1 ( +1 / -0 )

A farmed natural tree is better. Of course going out in the forest and cutting down a nice healthy tree is absurd. The plastic ones just contribute to CO2 in their manufacture and disposal and also contribute to the overuse of plastics in general.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Whether fake or real, both harming the environment. Ban and Illegal are the words for it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Balsam Hill has some nice super-realistic artificial trees.

Unfortunately they don't deliver to Japan.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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