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Wondering which Christmas tree (or Hanukkah bush) is best for the environment? Here’s the lowdown.
The Winner: Live Tree
A live tree comes potted with its roots intact. It’s the best choice if you keep it alive and can replant it.
Upside: Live trees emit oxygen, which helps reduce the greenhouse effect.
Downside: It’s not easy to keep them alive—they need a lot of water and care.
Runner-Up: Cut Tree
For every Christmas tree that’s harvested, up to three seedlings are planted in its place.
Upside: Many communities have recycling programs that turn trees into mulch. Or you can take your tree to the Boy Scouts, and for a nominal fee they’ll drop it right into the woodchipper.
Downside: Unless they’re organic, Christmas tree farms use pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers.
Third Place: Artificial Tree
Manufacturing artificial trees is usually harmful to the environment, so look for a secondhand tree to reduce the impact.
Upside: The same tree can be reused every year.
Downside: Artificial trees are not biodegradable and can’t be recycled, so they end up in landfill. Most are transported from overseas, which contributes to pollution.