Friday, December 6, 2013

Real vs Artificial Christmas Trees

With the holiday season upon us I thought it would be appropriate to provide a post on the real vs. artificial Christmas tree debate.  Of course my person al preference is to support our local economy, our local growers who depend on selling Christmas trees to make a living, and select a real tree.  But, is that really the best choice for the environment?  I have seen many different opinions on the subject expressed.  I recently came across the below article from Dovetails Partners, Inc. and thought I would share it with my readers.  Dovetail Partners is a nonprofit corporation that provides authoritative information about the impacts and trade-offs of environmental decisions, including consumption choices, land use, and policy alternatives.

Interestingly enough, if you go to the American Christmas Tree Associations web site they say there is no debate.  They feel that consumers should "feel free to choose either type of tree, or better yet, choose one or more of each!"   They state that "recent Life Cycle Analysis studies concluded that neither tree has a significant negative impact on the environment." Well, for my money I am still going to go with a real tree.....the debate may never be settled!

Real Versus Artificial Christmas Trees - An Environmental Perspective (Dovetail Partners 11/18/2013)
Each year around the holiday season decision making swings into full gear as people begin decorating and buying gifts for loved ones. For those that celebrate Christmas, an important decision regarding trees is often over-looked - should you buy a real or artificial Christmas tree, and how does your decision impact the environment? Cost, convenience, and personal preference are all important considerations, but so too is the environmental impact of each option.

Research has shown that locally-sourced natural trees have less environmental impact than artificial ones. An independent Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) study released by the Montreal firm Elliposos (February 2009) determined that real trees have less overall impact in terms of distribution, disposal, and average carbon emissions than their artificial counterparts. The LCA method allows for evaluation of potential environmental impacts of a product (or service) over its entire life cycle and takes raw material processing, manufacturing, transportation, distribution, use, reuse, recycling and disposal impacts into consideration.

When it comes to artificial trees, the key to achieving environmental gains lies in the amount of time they're kept and reused. Average households replace an artificial tree about every six years.  Evidence shows that, in general, artificial trees need to be reused for at least 20 years if they are to compare favorably with natural trees.

To read the rest of the story click here.

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