Rooted or Ready-Made

The tradition of the Christmas tree dates back to medieval Germany, where evergreen trees were decorated with apples, nuts, and candles as part of a paradise play during the Feast of Adam and Eve on December 24th. Over time this practice evolved and by the 16th century, trees were being brought into homes and decorated with ornaments. The custom spread across Europe and eventually to the United States through German immigrants, solidifying the Christmas tree as a symbol of festive celebration worldwide.

At the turn of the 20th century we were then introduced to the artificial christmas tree as a response to deforestation concerns and the desire for a reusable holiday decoration. The first artificial trees were made of goose feathers dyed green, and over time, materials like aluminum, plastic, and PVC became prevalent, offering a convenient and sustainable alternative to traditional cut trees. Here lies the debate of if we should purchase ready made trees or fresh.

The sustainability debate between artificial and real Christmas trees revolves around the environmental impact of production, transportation, and disposal. While artificial trees are often made from non-biodegradable materials and can be reused for several years, their manufacturing processes involve energy-intensive production and the use of non-renewable resources. On the other hand, real trees are a renewable resource, but their cultivation requires land, water, and pesticides, and the disposal process contributes to waste if not recycled. On average, studies suggest that you need to keep an artificial tree for at least 7-10 years to offset the environmental impact of a real tree each year. However, this estimate can vary based on factors like the distance the real tree is transported, the method of disposal, and the energy-intensive manufacturing processes of artificial trees.

Choosing a real Christmas tree over an artificial one supports sustainable forestry practices, as real trees are a renewable resource that helps absorb carbon dioxide during growth. In contrast, artificial trees are often made from non-biodegradable materials and have a higher environmental impact during manufacturing and transportation. Opting for a real tree can contribute to a more environmentally friendly holiday choice.

The sustainability of our holiday traditions hinges on the choices we make between artificial and real Christmas trees. It’s within our control to opt for long-lasting, reusable artificial trees and ensure proper recycling at the end of their life. Alternatively, supporting sustainable forestry practices and responsible tree disposal for real trees underscores the impact our decisions can have on the environment, emphasizing the importance of mindful consumer actions for a greener holiday season.