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Xmas dilemma: Real or fake tree

world Updated: Dec 22, 2010 23:01 IST

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Over 40 million Christmas trees are expected to be sold in the US this season but Americans are divided over whether to buy a fake or a real tree. With some 13 million artificial trees and 30 million real ones are expected to be sold in the US this year, a lot is at stake, reports Christian Science Monitor.

“Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a real Christmas tree,” says Jack Moore, co-owner of Gro-Moore Farms in Rochester, New York, as he sold the last of his potted evergreen topiaries to a customer. “The smell, picking out the tree as a family — it’s all about family, tradition,” he said.

“There’s a lot of hassle with a natural tree,” says Thomas Harman, CEO of Balsam Hill, a maker of premium artificial trees in Redwood City, Calif.

“Artificial gives you the realism of a natural tree with the convenience and safety of an artificial tree,” he said.

In recent years, the arguments on each side have gone beyond such general assessments, becoming much more finely honed, the report said.

That’s because Christmas trees are one of the latest items to join the list of consumables that Americans scrutinise for environmental, economic and political correctness, it said.

Despite popular opinion that plastic is better since it spares real trees from being cut, the latest research seems to indicate that a real tree is the better option. “Real trees are the better choice,” says Frank Lowenstein, director of climate-change adaptation for the Nature Conservancy in Arlington.

Buying a real tree keeps land covered with trees, he says — trees that “clean our air and water, provide habitat for wildlife, and suck up carbon”.

A recent study by the Montreal-based consulting firm Ellipsos found that carbon emissions associated with a real tree purchased each year were about one-third of those associated with an artificial tree used over a six-year stretch, which is the typical length of time that North Americans use a fake tree.

An artificial tree would have to be used for over 20 years to be considered more eco-friendly than a real tree, it said.