Real Vs Fake Christmas Trees: Which is Better for my Home?

This article is your guide to real vs fake Christmas trees. The holiday season brings with it a key decision for many households: choosing between a real or an artificial Christmas tree. This choice isn’t just about aesthetics or tradition; it also involves considerations of cost, environmental impact, and sustainability. As energy-conscious homeowners, it’s important to weigh these factors to make an informed decision.

I’ve personally had to decide on a real or artificial holiday tree for my apartment this year and found there was a lot to consider. From the aroma to the environmental impact, there are a few things to consider before purchasing. Let’s dive into the details.

Here at The Energy Professor, we want to give you the information you need to not only save money on your energy bill but to also become more energy efficient. We hope find this post helpful! And makes it easier for you to know more about real vs fake Christmas trees. Be sure also to check out our one-of-a-kind energy savings calculator!

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Should I Get a Real or Fake Christmas Tree 2023?

As the holiday season approaches, a question that often lights up in the minds of many homeowners is: should I opt for a real or a fake Christmas tree this year? In 2023, this decision goes beyond just tradition and aesthetics. It’s a choice that intertwines with broader concerns like environmental impact, cost-effectiveness, and sustainability. Whether you’re decking the halls for the first time or are a seasoned holiday decorator, understanding the implications of your choice is more relevant than ever in our energy-conscious world. Let’s explore the ins and outs of both options, aiming to make your decision not just a festive one, but also a responsible and informed one.

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What Are the Benefits of Having a Real Tree?

Choosing a real Christmas tree brings a unique blend of authenticity, tradition, and environmental benefits to the holiday season. Each tree offers a one-of-a-kind aesthetic with its natural look, feel, and the delightful pine scent that epitomizes Christmas for many. Selecting a real tree can be a cherished family tradition, enhancing the festive spirit. Environmentally, real trees are a renewable resource, contributing positively to air quality and local ecosystems during their growth. Opting for a real tree also supports local economies, as it often involves purchasing from local farmers and businesses.

Biodegradable and easy to recycle, real trees offer an eco-friendly end-of-season disposal option. Additionally, their air-purifying qualities can contribute to a healthier home environment. For families, this choice also presents an educational opportunity, teaching younger generations about sustainability and the life cycle of trees. In essence, a real Christmas tree not only decorates your home but also brings with it a host of benefits that can enrich your holiday experience in a sustainable and meaningful way.

Natural Aroma and Traditional Experience

One of the most enchanting aspects of a real Christmas tree is its natural aroma. The fresh, piney scent that wafts from these trees is inextricably linked with the essence of the holiday season for many. This fragrance, impossible to replicate artificially, fills homes with a warm, inviting atmosphere, instantly evoking memories of past holidays and setting the tone for festive celebrations. It’s a sensory experience that adds depth and authenticity to the holiday ambiance.

In addition to the olfactory delight, real Christmas trees offer a traditional and authentic holiday experience. Unlike their artificial counterparts, each real tree is a unique creation of nature, varying in size, shape, and color. This uniqueness ensures that no two trees are exactly alike, allowing each household to have a distinctive centerpiece for their holiday decor. The process of selecting a tree itself often becomes a beloved family tradition. Many families cherish the annual outing to a local farm or market, making the hunt for the perfect tree an integral and memorable part of their holiday season.

Environmentally Friendly in Certain Aspects

Real Christmas trees are often lauded for their environmentally friendly attributes. Their biodegradability is a key benefit, as they naturally decompose and can be repurposed for mulch or compost, contributing positively to the ecological cycle. During their growth, these trees enhance air quality by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen, playing a crucial role in carbon sequestration. Many Christmas tree farms employ sustainable farming practices, which support biodiversity and maintain local ecosystems. Additionally, as a renewable resource, for every tree harvested, new ones are planted, ensuring a continuous, eco-friendly cycle. Unlike artificial trees, real trees require minimal processing and do not involve non-renewable materials, making them a more sustainable choice for the environmentally conscious. These factors collectively underscore the environmental benefits of choosing a real Christmas tree.

Supports Local Economy

Purchasing a real Christmas tree often has a beneficial ripple effect on the local economy. When you choose a real tree, you’re typically buying from local farmers or small businesses, that directly support the agricultural community in your area. This support is crucial, especially for smaller, family-owned farms that rely on seasonal sales for a significant portion of their annual income. By choosing a real tree, you’re contributing to the livelihood of these farmers and helping to sustain the local agricultural industry.

Furthermore, this practice fosters community spirit and strengthens local economies by keeping money circulating within the community. Additionally, local tree sales often involve other small businesses, like local transport companies and retail outlets, creating a wider economic impact. In essence, the act of buying a real Christmas tree goes beyond just bringing holiday cheer into your home; it’s an investment in your local community, supporting the economic well-being and sustainability of the area you live in.

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What are the Benefits of Having an Artificial Tree?

Opting for an artificial Christmas tree offers several advantages, making it a practical choice for many households. These trees stand out for their longevity and cost-effectiveness, as they can be reused for multiple years, thereby spreading out the initial investment. Artificial trees are convenient and low maintenance, requiring no watering or cleaning up of fallen needles, and are typically easy to assemble and store. They provide a hypoallergenic option, ideal for those with allergies, and come in a wide range of styles and sizes, offering a variety of aesthetic choices to suit any home decor. Additionally, artificial trees are generally made from fire-resistant materials, enhancing safety, especially when adorned with holiday lights. This choice is also beneficial for those in areas where real trees are not readily accessible. Overall, artificial Christmas trees offer a predictable, hassle-free, and versatile holiday decorating option.

Reusability and Convenience

The reusability and convenience of artificial Christmas trees are among their most appealing features, offering significant advantages for the modern homeowner. One of the primary benefits of an artificial tree is its longevity; these trees can be reused for many years, effectively eliminating the annual ritual of tree shopping. This aspect is not only convenient but also cost-effective, as it spreads the expense of the tree over several holiday seasons. Additionally, artificial trees are designed for ease of use. They often come in sections that are simple to assemble and disassemble, making them user-friendly even for those who are not particularly handy. This ease of assembly is a significant time-saver during the busy holiday season.

Moreover, artificial trees require very little maintenance. Unlike real trees, they do not need to be watered, and there’s no concern about cleaning up fallen needles, which is often a tedious and ongoing task with real trees. This low-maintenance nature makes them particularly appealing to those who prefer a hassle-free holiday experience or have busy lifestyles. Overall, the reusability and convenience of artificial Christmas trees make them a practical and attractive option for many, simplifying holiday preparations and allowing more time to enjoy the festive season.

Hypoallergenic and low-maintenance

The hypoallergenic nature and low maintenance of artificial Christmas trees are significant benefits, particularly for households concerned with allergies and ease of upkeep. One of the notable advantages of an artificial tree is that it poses no issues with pollen or other natural allergens that are often associated with real Christmas trees. This feature is especially beneficial for individuals who suffer from allergies or respiratory issues, as it ensures a more comfortable and symptom-free holiday environment within the home. Furthermore, the low-maintenance aspect of artificial trees adds to their appeal. Unlike real trees, they do not require regular watering, a task that can be time-consuming and sometimes messy.

There’s also no need to worry about cleaning up the fallen needles, which is a common concern with real trees and can be particularly challenging for busy households or those who prioritize a clean and tidy living space. Additionally, artificial trees don’t require special disposal methods at the end of the season, making the post-holiday cleanup much more straightforward. These characteristics make artificial Christmas trees a practical choice for those who prefer a hassle-free holiday experience, allowing them to enjoy the festive season without the added work and concerns that can come with a real tree.

Diverse Styles and Long-Term Cost Efficiency

Artificial Christmas trees offer a blend of diverse styles and long-term cost efficiency, making them an ideal choice for a wide range of preferences and spaces. Available in a plethora of styles and sizes, they cater to various aesthetic tastes, ensuring that every homeowner can find a tree that perfectly aligns with their home décor and fits their space, whether it’s expansive or compact. In terms of cost, while the initial investment in an artificial tree might be higher than a real one, its ability to be reused year after year makes it a more economical option in the long run.

This durability not only ensures a consistent festive aesthetic but also translates to significant savings over time, as the cost of the tree amortizes across its many years of service. Thus, artificial trees stand out as a practical and budget-friendly solution for those seeking a festive atmosphere without the annual expenditure and hassle of purchasing a new tree each season.

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Real Vs Fake Christmas Trees: Cost

When deciding between a real and a fake Christmas tree, one of the key considerations is the cost. This decision isn’t just about the initial price tag; it’s important to consider the long-term financial implications of both options.

Initial Cost:

Real Christmas trees generally have a lower initial cost compared to high-quality artificial trees. The price of a real tree can vary depending on the type, size, and location, but they are often more affordable upfront. In contrast, artificial trees can be more expensive initially, especially for higher-end models that offer more realistic looks and added features like pre-strung lights.

Longevity and Reusability:

The major cost benefit of artificial trees lies in their longevity. A well-made artificial tree can last for many years, even decades, making it a one-time investment. This long-term usability can make artificial trees more cost-efficient over time. In contrast, real trees, being perishable, require annual replacement, which means a recurring expense every holiday season.

Maintenance and Additional Costs:

Real trees require certain maintenance efforts, like regular watering and cleanup of fallen needles, which might indirectly add to their cost. On the other hand, artificial trees might incur costs in terms of storage space or potential repairs for lighting and branches.

Which is more cost-efficient, a live or artificial tree?

While real trees usually have a lower initial cost, an artificial tree can be a more cost-effective investment in the long run. The upfront cost of a quality artificial tree can be higher, but since it can be reused for many years, it often becomes the more economical choice over time.

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Real Vs Fake Christmas Trees: Environmental Impact

When evaluating the environmental impact of real vs fake Christmas trees, it’s crucial to consider various factors. Real trees, while they grow, contribute positively to the environment by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen, and they are biodegradable at the end of their life cycle. However, if not sourced sustainably, they can have negative impacts due to deforestation and the use of pesticides. Artificial trees, made from plastics and metals, have a higher initial environmental impact due to the energy-intensive manufacturing process and the use of non-renewable resources. While they don’t provide the environmental benefits of living trees, their reusability can mitigate their carbon footprint over time. The environmental impact of each option thus largely depends on factors like the lifespan of the artificial tree, the sustainability of the farming practices for real trees, and the distance they travel to reach consumers.

Biodegradability: A Sustainable End-of-Life

One of the most significant environmental benefits of real Christmas trees is their biodegradability. Unlike artificial trees, which are predominantly made from plastics and metals that can take centuries to decompose in landfills, real trees are organic and decompose naturally. Once the holiday season is over, these trees can be repurposed for mulch or compost, contributing to soil health and supporting further plant growth. This natural cycle ensures that real trees, at the end of their holiday role, return to the earth and aid in the continuation of the ecological cycle.

Carbon Sequestration During Growth

Throughout their growth phase, real Christmas trees play a crucial role in improving air quality. They act as natural air purifiers, absorbing carbon dioxide—a key greenhouse gas—and releasing oxygen back into the atmosphere. This process of carbon sequestration is integral to mitigating the effects of climate change. By planting and nurturing these trees, farms contribute to the reduction of carbon footprint, albeit in a small yet meaningful way. That’s why we think that the real tree wins this category in real vs fake Christmas trees 2023.

Sustainable Farming Practices

Many Christmas tree farms engage in sustainable farming practices, which further enhance the environmental benefits of real trees. These practices include crop rotation, integrated pest management, and the preservation of natural habitats within the farm ecosystem. By doing so, these farms not only produce trees but also maintain biodiversity, support wildlife, and protect water sources. This approach to farming aligns with broader environmental goals, contributing to the health and stability of local ecosystems.

While we do like that an artificial tree can be used indefinitely, real trees are overall better for the environment. That’s why we’d have to say that with real vs fake Christmas trees, real wins this category!

What is the carbon footprint of a fake vs real Christmas tree?

The environmental impact of both types of trees is nuanced. Real trees, if locally sourced and properly disposed of, have a lower carbon footprint compared to artificial trees, which are typically made from non-renewable plastics and can have significant manufacturing and transportation emissions. However, if an artificial tree is used for many years, its environmental impact per year can decrease significantly.

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Recycling Real Vs Fake Christmas Trees

Recycling real versus fake Christmas trees presents different challenges and opportunities. Real trees are inherently more eco-friendly at the end of their lifecycle, as they are biodegradable and often recycled into mulch or used in conservation projects, contributing positively to the environment. On the other hand, artificial trees, made primarily from plastics and metals, are not as easily recyclable. Most end up in landfills where they can take centuries to decompose, posing a significant environmental concern. While the reusability of artificial trees offsets some environmental impact, their disposal remains a challenge. Consequently, the choice between real and fake trees in terms of recyclability leans towards real trees for their more environmentally sustainable disposal options.

What is easier to recycle: a real vs fake Christmas tree?

Real trees are easier to recycle. They can be composted, used for mulch, or repurposed in environmental restoration projects. Artificial trees, made of PVC and metal, are harder to recycle and often end up in landfills at the end of their life.


In conclusion, the choice between a real vs artificial Christmas tree depends on personal preferences, lifestyle, and environmental considerations. For those prioritizing sustainability, a locally sourced real tree or a high-quality artificial tree used for many years are both viable options. Remember, whichever type you choose, the spirit of the season is what truly counts.

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Nik Chapman

Nik Chapman is the Executive Editor of The Energy Professor with lifelong passion for studying and exploring the natural environment. Nik has a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Sciences and Biology and has specialized in work with Green Energy, Renewable Energy and Environmental Justice. Nik has worked directly with small communities and nonprofits to help make environmental education more accessible for everyone. Nik currently lives in Washington State and enjoys tide pooling on the Oregon Coast and taking hikes to local waterfalls