Real Christmas Trees are Greener Choice as Artificial Trees are Unfit for the Environment

This is in response to Treetopia’s article Artificial Trees are Greener Choice as Real Christmas Trees Become Unfit as Renewable Source which draws much of its information from the American Christmas Tree Association's (ACTA) web-site.
By: Stephen Walther
Aug. 29, 2011 - PRLog -- The truth must be told regarding Treetopia’s article Artificial Trees are Greener Choice as Real Christmas Trees Become Unfit as Renewable Source which draws much of its information from the American Christmas Tree Association's (ACTA) web-site.

Here is an excerpt from Carbon Footprint Study Finds Artificial Christmas Trees Best for the Environment found on the ACTA web-site:

"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."

This stark finding from their study can also be applied to artificial trees. The root of the problem here is "fossil fuel consumption in transportation", and has very little to do with Christmas trees. Artificial trees as well as real Christmas trees have to be transported to retailers on “gas-guzzling” trucks. Once the tree is bought it has to be driven to the home or office of the purchaser.

It is also very curious the ACTA went to all the trouble of sponsoring this study why didn't they publish the scientific results? And why would anyone quote a study without having or producing the findings?

Looking up the ACTA on Wikipedia ( reveals a lack of credibility in the organization: “The group claims to have sponsored studies, but hasn't released the actual studies to the public.[3] In November 2008, they launched a new website, which, according to the association, was meant to, "promote accurate and factual consumer information and provide consumers with the tools they need to make an educated choice about the right tree for their holiday and family enjoyment"

To those who truly care about the environment the following findings are readily accessible a search term and mouse click away.

Artificial Christmas trees are made of Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC).

1.   Early 1970's Dr. John Creech and Dr. Maurice Johnson were the first to clearly link and recognize the cancer causing tendency found in the chemicals used in PVC.

2.   Greenpeace has advocated the global discontinuing of PVC because dioxin ( is produced as a byproduct vinyl chloride manufacturing and from the burning of PVC waste.

3.   California is currently considering a bill, sponsored by Californians Against Waste ( to ban using PVC in packaging because of the threats it poses to the health of humans and the environment.

4.   PVC is not normally recycled after use because the recycling process is very costly.

5.   In 2005 Dr. Richard Maas, after a study conducted on artificial Christmas trees, is quoted as saying, "We found that if we leave one of these trees standing for a week, and we wipe under the tree we'll find large amounts of lead dust..."

6.   A 2008 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report found that of the 50 million artificial trees in the US about 20 million were 9 or more years old, the point where dangerous lead levels are reached.

7.   California requires that each artificial Christmas tree come with a warning label about the toxins contained in the PVC.
Is therefore a real Christmas tree better?

Here is a study that actually did share its scientific results ( There are three points I want to highlight about this study:

1.   Results show that a natural tree will generate 3.1 kg of greenhouse gases whereas the artificial tree will produce 8.1 kg per year.

2.   ellipsos chose the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) method to perform this study. It follows the recognized ISO 14040 and 14044 standards and it was reviewed by an independent third-party of peers.

3.   Interestingly, to compensate for the impacts of a Christmas tree, be it natural or artificial, one can offset the carbon emissions by carpooling or biking to work only one to three weeks per year.(I wonder how many people at the American Christmas Tree Association are doing their part here...)

One last note. For every Christmas tree cut down on a farm many more are planted. Dutchman Tree Farms planted over 750 thousand trees already this year.

Here are a couple of scientific articles to help demonstrate why artificial trees are not ‘greener’ than real Christmas Trees.

The Great Debate: Real Vs. Artificial Christmas Trees:

Real vs. Artificial Christmas Trees:

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Buy a Real Fresh Christmas Tree online. Have your Christmas tree delivered to your door from A Tree for Christmas | Dutchman Tree Farms.
Source:Stephen Walther
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Tags:Christmas Tree, Tree, Christmas, Artificial Christmas Tree, Real Christmas Tree
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