Photo: O Christmas tree, o Christmas tree, how green are you truly?

(Credit: Samenstelling via Flickr)

By: Tovah Paglaro

With the holiday season fast approaching, one question looms large in the minds of many: What's the greenest Christmas tree? Advocates of artificial trees take issue with the practice of cutting down trees in the name of festivity, whereas proponents of real trees argue that it's pretty much impossible for a plastic alternative to be green.

I suggest a third option: keep a live tree! Purchase a potted evergreen that will last years, grow with your family and ultimately be planted in the yard. There are even rental companies that will loan you a tree for a couple of weeks.

A cut tree's the second-best option. According to a comprehensive study conducted last year by Ellipsos, artificial trees have three times more impact on climate change and resource depletion than natural trees, assuming they're being replaced every six years. The artificial tree only wins out if it will last more than 20 years and if you'd have to drive a long way to buy a real tree.

Regardless of whether you choose real or artificial, there are ways to make sure your evergreen is truly green:

Real Trees

  1. Buy locally.
  2. Choose trees from pesticide-free farms.

Artificial Trees

  1. Avoid trees made of PVC — the grinchiest of plastics.
  2. Make it last 20 years!