Real Christmas Trees vs. Artificial Christmas Trees: Which is Better for Our Environment?

by Mark Cassini on December 18, 2020

Christmas trees currently make up a $2 billion industry every year, and growing. Real Christmas trees, on average, sell at around $75 per tree, and tree farms typically sell around 25 million to 30 million every year to either independent lots or large retailers. That’s a lot of trees. However, according to an Indiana State University professor, climate change, an aging population of farmers, and a change in consumer preferences have all started to threaten the real Christmas tree population. The biggest threat, though, that has entered the industry and continues to grow every year is the real Christmas tree’s opponent – the artificial Christmas tree.Which of these two trees pose the biggest threat to our environment, though? 


Christmas trees are a human tradition that dates back centuries ago, the 16th Century to be exact, thanks to Germany. Although, it looked much different than it does today. Many ancient people before the 16th Century would celebrate the winter solstice to honor gods by decorating their homes with evergreens or green palm rushes every year. Fast forward to this Century, most of us from around the world look forward to setting up a pine, spruce, fir, or evergreen tree every year, decorating it with beautiful lights and ornaments, wrapping and putting presents under the tree, and so on. Doing this helps everyone get into a very festive attitude towards the end of the year, and let’s face it, is Christmas really Christmas without a Christmas Tree? Real or fake, most could make the argument that it’s the staple of Christmas, whether there’s gifts to give or not. But – what are the effects that seem to be bigger than us, that are being caused by a massive industry from both real trees and artificial trees?


Real Christmas trees take an average of 8 to 10 years to grow and get to the market to sell, however, an artificial tree can take just a few minutes to produce. One big difference for a lot of people is that artificial trees, if purchased with high quality, could last you for years, eliminating the cost of having to purchase a real tree every year. But which of these trees are truly better? According to, the short answer is that real Christmas trees actually help sustain our environment and fight climate change more than the fake trees do. The amount of carbon emissions and resources it takes to create these artificial trees doesn’t compare to the real trees. And if everyone purchases low-quality plastic trees, or in general is throwing out their tree every year, they just end up in landfills as they cannot be recycled.  


Natural Christmas trees are actually helping our environment and fighting climate change, not to mention you get that real scent of crisp, fresh evergreen. As we mentioned before, there are around 30 million trees that get sold for Christmas, but there are hundreds of millions more that are left growing on farms! Natural trees are helping farmers stay in business and creating healthy forests that lots of wildlife throughout the country depend on. These real trees, unlike plastic ones, can be recycled as well, so once Christmas is over we can easily donate the trees to organizations, where they will be recycled. Who knows, maybe you could end up seeing your same Christmas tree next year! 


More ways to ensure we are helping our environment is to, if possible, try to keep your live Christmas tree potted. It could end up getting replanted! There are also studies showing us that using forests carefully can result in sustainable management of these renewable resources to provide benefits for both people and nature like habitats for our wildlife, healthy soil for our trees, and clean air and water! 


Help continue to protect our environments, not just from a local standpoint, but a much larger scope. Help continue to fight climate change and reduce carbon emissions. When it comes to a favorite holiday for most, purchase a real Christmas tree!