Owning an artificial Christmas tree is healthier for the environment over a 10 year period than using real trees.
The environmental study found that a consumer using an average artificial Christmas tree has a significantly smaller carbon footprint than a consumer using average farm-grown Christmas trees.
The in-depth analysis studied both real and artificial Christmas trees from "cradle to grave" over a 10-year use period. This included analyzing each stage of the life cycle of natural Christmas trees, from seedling through commercial farming, cultivation and harvesting, transport to retail, transport to consumer homes, and finally transport and disposal. The study also examined the manufacturing of an artificial tree including resource harvesting, raw material transport, each stage of the manufacturing process, transport to retail, transport to consumer homes, and finally transport and disposal.
The study was based on the North American consumer and compared the most commonly sold 6' artificial Christmas tree, manufactured in China, to 6' real Christmas trees grown locally in the United States.
The study, sponsored by the American Christmas Tree Association and conducted by leading international sustainability firm PE Americas, found that the most significant contribution to global warming came from fossil fuel consumption in transportation of real Christmas trees from tree farms and lots to consumer homes. The study also indicated that driving out to a tree farm and cutting down a tree is the worst environmental choice you can make when buying a Christmas tree and that it's substantially better for the environment to buy a tree from a local retailer rather than to drive out to a farm, due to the incremental fossil fuel consumed.
The environmental study found that the best way to reduce one's carbon footprint is to choose an artificial Christmas tree and to use it for ten or more years. If consumers use an artificial tree for just one year and then throw it away, then there is no benefit. Of course, in today's economy, it's much more likely that consumers will invest in something that will last. Not only is investing in an artificial Christmas tree a wise financial investment, it also reduces global warming and other environmental impacts at the same time.
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