While the greenest option is buying a locally sourced real tree, you can reduce the environmental impact of an artificial tree by re-using it for at least four years. That is according to a 2020 life-cycle analysis of artificial versus real trees sponsored by the American Christmas Tree Association. Due to the energy required to manufacture an artificial tree, the more years it is reused, the lower the relative carbon footprint compared to purchasing a real tree every year. Transportation from the tree farm contributes to the carbon footprint of real trees. Thus after four years, carbon emissions from one artificial tree may be lower than the emissions required to transport four real trees. It is also important to consider that at the end of its usable life, artificial trees require disposal of plastic.
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