Monday, December 5, 2011

Fake vs. Real Christmas Trees?

Tom Joseph
HARRISBURG, Pa. - Many Pennsylvanians are deciding about now whether to buy a fake Christmas tree or a real one this season. It's a choice that has environmental and economic impacts.

Bill Ulfelder, director of The Nature Conservancy, says natural Christmas trees provide major environmental benefits, like capturing global warming emissions and preventing erosion. He says most fake trees are manufactured abroad using polyvinyl chlorides, PVCs.

"Folks use an artificial tree for about five or six years. So, energy intensive to produce, energy intensive to ship, and then it just sits there in a landfill and doesn't biodegrade."

Ulfelder says there are many environmental benefits to real Christmas trees.

"They capture climate-changing gases from the atmosphere, so they help abate climate change; they're putting oxygen into the air for us to breathe; they're good for wildlife, mammals, birds, insects."

He says there are more than 12,000 Christmas tree farms nationwide, and you can help farmers by buying a native tree.

"My family and I, we're always looking to make sure we get a local tree. The other thing that's starting to happen is more and more organic Christmas trees, trees produced with no pesticides or herbicides, also better for the environment."

He says one acre of Christmas trees provides enough fresh oxygen for 18 people.

The Pennsylvania Christmas Tree Growers Association says real trees clean our water and make it safe for drinking, boating, and swimming, provide vital habitat for wildlife, and save money by reducing the cost of stormwater runoff. Pennsylvania has more Christmas tree farms than any other state, over 2100 operations contributing in excess of $17 million to the state's economy.

More information is at and


  1. I wouldn't say I'm the environmental type but I can't justify the killing of a tree just to decorate my home for 45 days. Those trees would produce a lot more oxygen if they were left in the ground to mature as nature intended.

    And of course these studies never mention the resources it takes to sell a real tree;
    * electricity/gas/emissions it takes to run the lot where they are sold
    * electricity/gas/emissions it takes to transport the trees to the lot and then home
    * the plastics that are used to bundle the tree
    * the break down of tinsel and other chemicals sprayed on the tree

  2. I'm not a big fan of either tree. Decorations are cool but the indoor tree concept has always been strange to me, even as a kid. Trees belong outside.