O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree..

In a world where we can have a Christmas tree in any color/height we want, that is pre-lit, has an automatic timer, and doesn’t need any watering, why would we ever give thought to going to a tree farm and brave the bitter cold to cut down a real tree? Better yet, why would we pay $50-$80 for a tree we are no longer going to use after the holiday season? Because cutting down your own Christmas tree is all about making memories as a family, supports local businesses, and is better for the environment – that’s why.

So, what exactly are the benefits of having a real tree in your home vs. an artificial one? There are plenty! Real trees offer an aroma that is enough to get you in the holiday spirit. Sure, real trees require a little extra love and care, but the beauty and scent they offer is incomparable.

Teaching the next generation about sustainable forestry/tree farms is very important. Often times, youth are under the impression that cutting down trees is bad, and that’s not the case. Tree farms (and logging companies) are extremely sustainable, with new block plantings going in every year, replacing trees that were cut down. Not to mention, you are supporting a local business when you purchase a real tree.

Opting for a real tree has many benefits for wildlife and/or livestock as well. After Christmas, you can create a brush pile with the discarded tree in your backyard. This will serve as food and coverage for wildlife during the cold winter months. If you don’t have a backyard to do this, you can donate the tree to a local farmer who will use it to feed his/her livestock (yes, they will eat your Christmas tree)!

Another real tree option is purchasing a potted Christmas tree, this will allow you to plant the tree in your backyard the following spring. MSU Extension has tips and suggestions for how to do this.

While going with an artificial tree may seem more convenient and cost effective, it is way less environmentally sustainable and does not offer any benefits to wildlife or local businesses. On average, an artificial tree only has a lifespan of about 7 years. After several years, they end up in a landfill. It ultimately comes down to this: Plastic vs. wood. Going with the renewable option will always be better for the environment.


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