To Tree or Not to Tree?

winter trees
photo credit: Harold E. Malde

We love trees. They clean our air and water, store our carbon, and lend a hand in creating many of life’s needful things, from our homes and furniture to America’s beloved baseball bats. So we should never, ever cut one down for the sole purpose of decorating our living rooms for the month of December, right? Actually, wrong.

If you choose a real Christmas tree over an artificial one, count yourself among the “greener” holiday makers.


5 Reasons to Go Green with Real Trees:

  • Real trees help keep land covered in forests instead of development (Therefore, buying a real Christmas tree means keeping Christmas tree farms in business.)
  • Real trees are more easily recycled. Fake trees are typically made from vinyl – a type of plastic that is quite hard to recycle.
  • Producing a fake tree uses a lot more fossil fuels than growing a real one, therefore contributing to increased carbon pollution.
  • Real trees store carbon as they’re growing.
  • Real trees smell great!
photo credit: Ami Vitale


Want to make your already green choice even greener?

  • Visit a cut-your-own tree farm instead of purchasing a pre-cut tree. That way, you’ll know for certain that it wasn’t shipped in from outside your home state. If you’re lucky, maybe you live near one of the top five Nature Conservancy preserves where you can take your family to get a Christmas tree.
  • Use LED lights.
  • Pass up the non-recyclable tinsel and make garland out of popcorn and/or cranberries.
  • Keep using heirloom ornaments year after year, but if you’re still looking to fill some space on the tree, you don’t have to go the store-bought route. Try turning holiday cards or your child’s artwork into ornaments. Or go for a walk to collect pine cones or seashells and decorate with glue and glitter.
  • If you are planning to purchase ornaments, choose wooden ones over plastic. When you travel during the year, pick up a painted wood ornament from the destination you visit. Soon you’ll have a collection of ornaments that bring back memories of trips with friends and family.


This article is courtesy of The Nature Conservancy in New York.

For more information about The Nature Conservancy and the organization’s work in your region, go to the global website and select your state. For updates on the Conservancy in New York, check them out on Twitter: @nature_ny  and on Facebook at

Clay Miller
the authorClay Miller
I am the creator/writer of and I'm an advocate for oceans, beaches, state parks. I enjoy all things outdoors (e.g. running, golf, gardening, hiking, etc.) I am a graduate of the University of Kentucky (Go Wildcats!!). I'm also a huge fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers. I was born and raised in the beautiful state of Kentucky.

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