Real vs. Fake: Why a Real Christmas Tree is the Green Choice

Bring home the real thing! Photo by Forests Ontario
Bring home the real thing! Photo by Forests Ontario

This article was written by Shelley McKay, Director of Communications & Development, Forests Ontario.

This holiday season, millions of Ontarians will look to find the perfect Christmas tree for their homes. Forests Ontario would like to remind those doing the purchasing that real Christmas trees are more environmentally friendly than artificial trees. Likewise, many of us ask ourselves, “Should we get a real tree this year?” The Forests Ontario thinks you should, as it is the environmentally friendly choice.
Many Ontarians agree, according to a recent province-wide poll, commissioned by Forests Ontario. In 2014, nearly half (48.3%) of Ontarians polled selected real Christmas trees as the environmental choice. This was significantly higher than the one-third of those respondents who thought artificial trees were better for the planet.
Christmas trees in Canada are grown on farms specifically for the Christmas season. When trees are harvested, Christmas tree farmers plant new seedlings to grow trees for the future holiday season. More than 600 farmers produce over one million Christmas trees each year. Not only do these trees serve the consumer, but it also provides habitat for wildlife and retains soil and water, preventing seasonal runoff.
Christmas tree plantations are carbon sinks, soaking up carbon dioxide emitted by cars, planes and our homes. Furthermore, one acre of planted Christmas trees produces oxygen for 18 people every day! The trees are 100 per cent biodegradable, and after Christmas the trees are mulched and are used in municipal parks. Pharmaceutical companies in Ontario also extract ingredients from tree needles for flu vaccines.
On the other hand, the manufacturing and transportation of non-biodegradable fake Christmas trees requires large amounts of fossil fuels. In addition, they are not biodegradable and increase waste in the landfills.
When it comes to decorating your tree, be sure to use LED lights. LEDs use 90% less electricity than traditional incandescent seasonal lights, and lasts up to 10 times longer!
Contrary to popular belief, Christmas trees are relatively easy to get. If you live in a city, many large grocery stores and hardware stores carry them. If you want to get hands on, go to a Christmas tree farm to choose and cut your own tree. Lastly, don’t forget about the distinct aroma from real Christmas trees. Nothing can beat the familiar scent that only nature can provide.

Quick Facts

  •  Christmas trees are sustainably raised, often on marginal land that wouldn’t support other types of agriculture.
  • One acre of Christmas trees produces enough oxygen to meet the daily need of 18 people.
  • Trees provide wildlife habitat as well as soil and water retention.
  • Christmas tree plantations act as a carbon dioxide sink.
  • 100% biodegradable.

Forests Ontario was created in 2014 as a result of the merging of not-for-profit organizations Trees Ontario and the Ontario Forestry Association (OFA). Forests Ontario is committed to the re-greening of Ontario through tree planting efforts on rural lands and in urban areas as well as the renewal and stewardship of Ontario’s forests through restoration, education and awareness. Visit or follow us @Forests_Ontario.

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