Are Real Christmas Trees Better Than Fake Ones?

Are Real Christmas Trees Better Than Fake Ones?

Choosing between real and artificial Christmas trees largely comes down to personal preference: do you want that cosy pine smell and hellacious clean-up, or built-in lights with no personal touch but nary a needle on the floor? Personal preference aside, though, there’s someone else who probably cares: Mother Earth.

Real vs fake Christmas trees: What to know

Don’t fall into the assumption that cutting down trees for a few weeks of festivity is on par with harmful deforestation. Apartment Therapy points out that the Christmas tree industry is actually beautifully sustainable – Christmas tree farms “provide clean air and water, important habitat for wildlife, and erosion control,” with only a small percentage of trees harvested each year.

On the other hand, artificial trees have to be manufactured and transported – real trees get transported, too, but you’d have to use your fake tree for about twenty Christmases before it became a better environmental bet than a real tree. That’s bad news for most fake tree fiends, as the average lifespan for an artificial tree (in the States) is more like six years, and especially for folks who go trendy with their fake trees – you want your tree to outlast the fads.

Once a fake tree comes to the end of its life it ends up in landfill, so you want to try and put that off for as long as you possibly can if you’re part of the fake tree club.

Environmentally speaking, your best bet is to get a real tree from as local a farm as possible. Indulge your trendy impulses with decorations, and at the end of the season, recycle your tree — many cities and towns organise collections to turn trees into mulch or compost. Let your tree be the gift that keeps on giving.

Even better yet, as Future Earth shared in a recent post on this, you could also opt-in for a live potted tree or one you can plant in your backyard, then re-use it every single year.

If you’re unsure where to shop a real tree in Australia, don’t fret. Because we have a guide on shopping real Christmas trees in Australia prepped for you here.

This article has been updated with additional information since its original publish date.


  • How do christmas trees provide water? They would be consumers of water rather than providers?

    • You’ve dropped an important context word: trees provide clean water.

      Rainwaters can move sediment, fertiliser, oil, pesticides, and other garbage from urban and suburban areas to nearby rivers, streams, and lakes. Trees filter some of it before it gets there, providing clean water.

  • Wowsers, my parents did the right thing getting artificial then – they’ve had that tree about 25 years lol

  • Don’t forget your petrol consumption to pickup and then deposit the tree – do that 20 times.
    I suppose you could just plant the tree after Christmas and then pull it out from the garden every year, until it gets too big for your living room.
    Or get a bonsai tree.

  • Riiiight.

    So buying an actual tree every year is beter for the enviroment than just buying a fake one and never having to buy a tree again?

    Is the author of this article inept?

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