Source: PixabaySource: PixabayThe American Christmas Tree Association, a trade group composed of Christmas tree growers and manufacturers, set out to determine whether artificial trees or real Christmas trees were better for the environment.

Based on the findings from the 2010 report on the topic, researchers determined that there were environmental costs for both.

Growing Christmas trees involves ingredients such as dirt, water, pesticides, fungicides and herbicides. Additionally, to transport and harvest the trees, gasoline is needed.

Manufacturing a Christmas tree, on the other hand, requires materials such as steel, aluminum, PVC plastic and cardboard for packaging. Artificial tree manufacturing can also take an additional toll on the environment in terms of transportation. Because most artificial trees are commonly manufactured in Asia, transport becomes an additional environmental cost.

Another factor to consider, according to the study, is tree disposal. While most consumers don’t typically dispose of their artificial trees each year, when they are thrown out, they generally end up in a landfill because they can’t be recycled. Real trees, however, can be composted, incinerated or sent to the landfill.

Researchers concluded that while fewer resources are used to create and transport real trees, in the long run, considering that most people keep their artificial trees for significant periods of time, artificial trees will eventually have less of an environmental impact. In fact, researchers estimate that it will take nine years for an artificial tree to be the environmentally-preferred choice over purchasing a live tree each year.

However, researchers also concluded that big-picture wise, the environmental impact of either choice isn’t all that significant.

"We believe there is no bad choice when it comes to a Christmas tree," said Jami Warner, the trade group's executive director. "Choose either tree, relax, enjoy the holidays."

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