The answer? Not always simple!
As Matt Hickman's November 2021 Treehugger article "What's the Environmentally Preferable Choice: A Real Christmas Tree or a Faux One?" points out, a big determining factor is what are your post-Christmas plans for that tree of yours. Some quick points: Tossing a real tree in a landfill is never a good idea. Make sure it gets outside in time for your local municipality to compost it or turn it into mulch. Additionally it could become a home in the woods for wildlife if you take it there. If you are going artificial, make a plan to keep it a long time so that you are reusing it, not buying new every year and/or adding to the landfill.
Here are some other takes on the same concept:
- One Tree Planted's Real vs. Fake Christmas Trees: Which is Better For the Environment?
The neat thing though, is it is not necessarily an "either/or" situation. There are other options too. Check out Treehugger's Katherine Martinko's 2021 article "How to Have the Greenest Christmas Tree Ever" on how to help your tree (whichever type you choose) have a lower environmental footprint. There's a great link in that article taking you to Green Moxie's 2020 article "35 DIY Christmas Trees made from Recycled Materials" with some fabulous and inventive ideas and photos that get you to Plan C for your Tree: Not Real, Not Fake, But Something Else! That's all the magic of this season--your imagination and some lights can carry you far. Might be worth consideration if you've yet to make your tree decision this year... or may have you planning ahead for your 2022 Holiday Season!