Which Type of Christmas Tree is Greener?

Which type of Christmas tree is greener?The holiday season is upon us and chances are you are considering a Christmas tree purchase. But maybe you have been contemplating,”Is it greener to buy an artificial tree to re-use year after year or to chop down a real tree?” Don’t presume you know which type of Christmas tree is greener, because you may be surprised. I am going to give you some tips to ponder under each category.

Artificial Tree

  • They last for years and can be passed on for generations or donated.
  • Where is it made? Many are made in China & may contain toxic containments, but check out these made in America trees by Holiday Tree and Trim Co.
  • Pre-lit trees may be convenient, but if a strand goes out it may not be easily removed and replaced.
  • It can be a big upfront cost, but can save you money through the years.
  • Consider buying a used one from a thrift store rather than purchasing new.
  • You do need to have space to store it for the other 11 months of the year.
  • You can put up the tree whenever you want and do not need to consume fossil fules to go get one.

Cut Live Tree

  • Is there a local tree farm to buy one from? Those shipped to many big box stores and lots were shipped many, many miles requiring the consumption of fossil fuels.
  • Does your community offer a Christmas tree pick up? Often if they do, they will grind up the trees to make mulch to use or sell.
  • Research the farm you are purchasing it from, some use many pesticides that can have an enviromental impact.
  • Christmas tree farms continually replace cut trees by planting new trees.
  • Picking out a tree and that pine smell might be part of your holiday memories and traditions.
  • They are messy and might not have a uniform shape.
  • You will have to use fossil fuels to go buy one.

Living Christmas Tree

  • Depending upon where you live, the ground may already be too cold to dig one out if they don’t already have living trees for sale.
  • You will have a much smaller tree than if you have a cut or artificial tree.
  • Depending upon your climate, you may have to keep it alive indoors all winter. Putting it outside in the cold after being indoor can cause it to go in to shock and die.
  • Since it is living, it won’t lose needles like a cut one, so you have less mess but all the pine smell you want.
  • You end up with a tree to plant in your yard.
  • The root ball can be very large & heavy (depending upon the size of your tree.)

So what kind of tree do we have?

I bet you have been wondering what kind of tree we have. For years, we had a cut live tree, but then we moved in to a home with 10ft ceilings and bought some pieces of furniture including a 9ft Christmas tree from the previous owner (they had no use for that tall of a tree and would probably have thrown it away). I feel ok about buying a used artificial Christmas tree that might have otherwise ended up in a landfill and fits our space perfectly.

However, we did have a Living Christmas Tree one year when we had temporarily relocated for my husband’s job and we kept it indoors & alive until it could be planted. That year we also had a Valentine tree and Easter tree to continue to utilize it. We then gave it to a friend that was planting similar trees in their yard since we would not be moving the tree with us. It was a neat experience and I would do it again if I knew I had a place to plant it in the spring.

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When you are thinking about greening up your Christmas tree, don’t forget about other ways to green up your Christmas tree.  Check out Switch to LED Christmas Lights and Save and Recycle You Christmas Lights for more information.

About Jessica Shallow-Miller

Jessica is a crafty stay-at-home mom of two, who tries to find ways to save money while being green. She is also the author of the blog Save Green Being Green.


  1. says

    I have an artificial tree b/c cutting down a tree seems so sad and a live tree is too much for me to think about planting every year! :) My tree is white.

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