The Green Medium is an Emerald Award-winning, youth-run blog that seeks to innovate how we discuss and inform ourselves on environmental concerns.

A Tale of Two Trees

December is now upon us, which means it’s time for holiday joy, gingerbread, and a tree in your living room. The debate of fake tree versus real tree is an old one, and now one that’s become more complex with interesting alternative options. 

There were initially two sides to the tale of two trees, plastic and real. Plastic tree enthusiasts will argue they last longer compared to real trees. Their pro-real tree counterparts main argument being trees aren’t made of plastic. Researchers will agree, plastic is a huge downside. According to Ellipsos a fake tree, based on a six year life span, has three times more negative impact on climate change than a real tree. Although many argue over the average life-span of a fake tree (anywhere from 2 to 9 years) none will dispute that three times less impact is not something to push aside.


This difference in climactic impact is based largely on the fact that fake trees are made from non-renewable, oil-based plastic. While 93% of real trees are recycled all fake trees sit in landfills for centuries, simply taking up space. Plus real trees have a positive effect as well. During their growth of about six to ten years an acre of Douglas Fir trees can absorb 11,308.7 pounds of carbon dioxide. That’s almost $180 dollars worth of CO2 under Alberta’s new carbon tax.


The alternative options


Purchasing a living potted tree is a better solution. You can buy a tree in a pot, keep it inside your home for a week during the festivities. Then on boxing day simply leave it outside, until you can plant it come spring thaw. This option does require some gardening expertise, and the tree can only be inside for about a week and remain healthy.

Renting a tree is an option that’s growing in popularity. Organizations throughout North America offer the service of delivering and setting up a tree, then taking it back after Christmas and planting it. This way you get that fresh tree aroma without having to deal with the aftermath.

There's a variety of options available, all with different levels of physical and monetary commitment. Choose what's best for you and have a wonderful time over the holidays.


Thank You,

Cam Somerville

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