It’s the same debate every year for some families: real tree or fake tree this holiday season? Have you ever thought about which tree is better for the environment? The Nature Conservancy says the answer is simple — real!

Are fake trees bad for the environment?

Every season in the U.S., around 10 million artificial trees are purchased. Roughly 90% are shipped across the world from China, which causes an increase in carbon emissions and resources. Most artificial trees are not recyclable because of the material they are made of, so they just end up in landfills.

Why are real trees better than artificial ones?

There are a few reasons real trees are better for the environment than fake ones.

  1. Real trees don’t require the carbon emissions needed to transport an artificial one.
  2. Even though you are cutting down a real tree, you are also supporting forests! Out of the 350-500 million trees growing on tree farms across the country, only 30 million are harvested each year. Buying real trees will help keep tree farms in business and in turn keep their lands covered in healthy forests that wildlife can still thrive on.
  3. Once the holiday season is over, the trees can be recycled. Most states have specific places and projects that can recycle or reuse your Christmas trees.

Should we avoid cutting down trees in general?

When forests are sustainably managed, they can produce renewable resources like Christmas trees and other wood-made products.

There should be no remorse, no guilt, like, ‘Oh my goodness, it’s a cut tree.’ It’s quite the contrary. Trees are a renewable resource. When they’re being cut, they’re being harvested in ways that they’re being replanted, so it’s a great renewable resource that provides lots of environmental, conservation and nature benefits.

Chris Neggers, director of Forest Conservation for The Nature Conservancy

How is my real Christmas tree making a difference?

By purchasing a real Christmas tree, you are supporting local tree farmers and helping maintain healthy forests. Carbon emissions can be cut down with natural solutions like restoring our forests.