Reduce your Christmas tree impact

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To reduce the environmental impact of your Christmas tree, buy a locally grown tree and dispose of it sustainably. If you prefer artificial trees, invest in one you love and keep it for at least ten years.


One of the special Christmas decorations is the tree. Make your Christmas season more environmentally friendly by reducing the impact of your tree, whether you prefer a real tree or an artificial one.

In short, if you prefer real trees, try to buy ones that are grown locally and dispose of them so that they are either composted, turned into mulch, or burned.

If you prefer an artificial tree, do not buy new ones regularly. Invest in one you really love and keep it for a long time — at least ten years. Even longer is better.

There are millions of both artificial trees and real trees produced for the Christmas season every year. Artificial trees, usually made of plastic, release a good amount of carbon emissions when made. Plus, there is the pollution created from shipping them around the world. In addition, they are not manufactured with recyclable materials, meaning they eventually end up in landfills to sit for 100+ years.

On the other hand, buying a real tree from a local store or tree farm reduces the carbon emissions needed to transport the tree. Plus, tree farms are part of an ecosystem, albeit a simpler one. They have other plants between the trees and can harbor birds and other animals. However, it still takes resources to cut down trees every year, and once a tree is dead and decomposes, it returns the carbon it captured to the atmosphere. If your tree ends up in a landfill, its footprint increases significantly because of anaerobic decomposition.

When it comes to real versus artificial, once you have made a decision, run with it and make the best of it. There are so many other things we can do to impact the climate emergency positively. Enjoy the holidays and regenerate your energy to focus on higher-impact actions.


• If you leave your real tree out for garbage collection, it is likely going to the landfill unless you know your area has a special tree recycling program. Check the details online and see if there is a way to ensure your tree is disposed of in a more sustainable way. For example, many local governments set up programs to turn the trees into mulch.

• Find Christmas tree farms near you by searching online for options. This tool shows the location of many but does not cover all countries.

• If you want to go far to get a real tree, see if you can find a tree farm with a pop-up sale location near you. This is nice because the farms are traveling with trees in bulk, which is more energy-efficient than multiple people going to their location.

• Only need a tree once every few years or so? You could look into renting a tree. You can find local stores that rent artificial trees by conducting a quick internet search.

• Want to stretch your money further to invest in a nicer artificial tree to have 10+ years? Wait until right after Christmas to get one on sale.

• Looking for an alternative approach to reduce impact further? While not for everyone, here are a few options:

1) Get a potted tree that can be replanted and used year after year.
2) Plant a tree outside your window and decorate it each year.
3) Skip the tree altogether.

That may not feel like Christmas, so figure out what works best for you!

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