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Sustainability News

ASU Sustainability News ASU Wrigley Institute News

December 24, 2016

A Christmas tree with a mom and a child in the backgroundNatural vs. artificial – which Christmas tree is better for the environment, and can consumer choice really make a difference?

Carole Mars, senior research lead at The Sustainability Consortium at ASU, delves into what makes a Christmas tree "green," and whether other considerations come into play for consumers decorating for the holidays.

So, which tree is really more environmentally-friendly?

It depends on how consumers use it. Mars explains that there are several options for environmentally-conscious shoppers seeking to lower their environmental footprint. Locally-sourced natural trees that are composted or recycled will have a ‘break-even point’ of approximately four years, after which their environmental impact will be mitigated. On the other hand, artificial trees must be used for at least eight years to have a lower environmental impact than their natural counterparts, but can easily be re-used and re-purposed year after year.

Thus, it is crucial for holiday consumers to plan ahead when selecting their Christmas trees to find the perfect  compromise between tradition and conservation.

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