With Christmas on the horizon and all this talk of environmental change in the media, you may be wondering what is better; real or artificial Christmas trees? There are many sides to this debate, which we will cover off as we go.
Rest assured, by the end we will deliver a verdict that we hope you will agree with!
Ease and convenience
This is a mixed bag of results when pitting real trees against artificial trees and there are many mini categories to consider. We have listed these to give you the best information in the clearest way.
The first point goes to real Christmas trees as they can be disposed of easily after Christmas and don’t require storage. Artificial trees, of course, don’t take up a huge amount of storage space but even when they are flat packed down they can be quite bulky.
The only instance where an artificial tree wins this one is if you have a pot grown tree that you wish to keep for a number of Christmases.
Putting up a real tree isn’t what we would call easy, they are heavy and awkwardly shaped. They are fairly straightforward once they are up though and take much less time than attaching branches to a trunk in sequence. For a real Christmas tree, you can buy a reusable stand. For this reason, we are going with real Christmas trees.
The maintenance aspect of real Christmas trees is probably going to be your biggest gripe. Even non-drop trees that have been cultivated to retain their needles will occasionally drop needles when you brush past and require a little bit of light vacuuming. In comparison, the only time you need to tidy around an artificial Christmas tree is when someone knocks something off it or the cat decides to climb it. This is without question an artificial tree win.
This is a tricky one and comes with a few added categories. First off, an artificial tree direct from the box for the first time will look great. Some artificial trees look as good new as real Christmas trees. This should be no surprise as they are designed to replace real Christmas trees but still provide the same effect.
When completely new, this is potentially a draw.
Over successive years though, artificial trees wear quickly and they begin to look tatty after a couple of years. This is partly because they are not particularly robust and also because they aren’t designed for plenty of longevity, otherwise you wouldn’t buy new artificial trees in the future.
This is where real Christmas trees take the win for the overall look, because over the years a real Christmas tree will look much better more often.
We have decided to include this in our deliberations as artificial trees and real trees do have a smell. New artificial trees have a very “new plastic” smell and older ones tend to get a bit of a musty smell where they have been kept in storage for 11 months of the year.
Real Christmas trees by comparison have a very fragrant fresh and natural smell. The pine needles have a rich aroma and it is possible to detect a citrusy smell as well.
For this reason, real Christmas trees get the point as they do smell much better than artificial trees. You can ditch the air freshener when you get a real tree!
In recent years, artificial tree manufacturers have started using “recycled plastic” to make their trees in a bid to make their product seem environmentally friendly. The truth is that recycled plastic is cheaper for them to purchase and use. Aside from this inconvenient truth, they also use a blend of different recycled plastics to make the various components of their trees which also disastrously means that the plastic used in recycled trees is difficult to recycle further.
Plastic when mixed with other plastic is complex and sometimes impossible to recycle and all this adds up to is your beloved artificial Christmas tree one day ending up on a landfill site.
Real Christmas trees fare much better on the manufacture side of things and even factoring in the fuels used to ship and grow them (agriculture needs energy to sustain itself) if you add in the positive impact of all that extra oxygen going into the atmosphere then you’re probably left with a net environmental damage score of zero. In other words, it isn’t damaging the environment.
As more people buy real Christmas trees and farms are scaled upwards the processes to grow them will become more refined and the positive impact of oxygen being released into the atmosphere will only grow. This means that this year, you really can make a difference just by buying a real Christmas tree.
Real Christmas trees win the manufacturing point without question.
You may be reading this and thinking well, real Christmas trees will still end up on landfill. And this is true in very rare cases. Occasionally a real Christmas tree will end up on landfill. But being fully biodegradable it will not cause any damage whatsoever.
It will more likely end up in your green waste bin which gets sold by local authorities to agricultural companies that turn it into compost. Your real Christmas tree could become compost to help grow next years Christmas tree.
Artificial trees are nothing but damaging for the environment and the disposal of them either requires heavy shipping and lots of fuels being burnt to “recycle” them or they end up sitting on landfill for hundreds of years.
Artificial trees do have some merits and they’re easy to maintain. But real Christmas trees are much better looking, smelling and better for the environment. The real tree wins the competition hands down. It is time to join the green Christmas tree revolution and try to dispose of your artificial tree as responsibly as possible in order to buy real Christmas trees. You won’t regret it at all!