The Home Depot sells both fresh-cut and artificial trees, and each type of tree has its advantages. Likewise, no matter which you prefer, there are choices you can make that reduce the carbon footprint associated with your holiday tree. In fact, one of the most critical decisions you can make is not which tree you buy, but what you do with it once the holidays are over. Join us as we explore the different choices and actions so that you can find the greenest tree for your holiday.
The Pros and Cons of Fresh-Cut Holiday Trees
Live trees are a renewable resource
The live Christmas trees sold at The Home Depot are grown on tree farms. Across the U.S., there are hundreds of thousands of acres dedicated to their growth. Of the roughly 350–500 million Christmas trees grown on farms across the U.S., approximately 30 million are cut and sold each year. The remainder of those trees are left to mature.
These farms raise and harvest local varieties of trees. These are trees that naturally thrive in the region. If you visit a store in the Southeast, you will see Frasier firs grown in the Carolinas. On the West Coast, our stores sell Noble firs. By growing native varieties, these farms lessen the environmental impact of their operations. Because – by working with mother nature – their trees require fewer resources and maintenance.
To learn how one farm grows and manages trees for The Home Depot, join us for a virtual trip to Holiday Tree Farms in Corvallis, Oregon.
Live trees help reduce carbon in the earth’s atmosphere
When it comes to carbon emissions, live trees can be a tremendous asset. Live trees release oxygen and take in carbon dioxide, thereby helping to reduce the amount of CO2 in the earth’s atmosphere. For every acre of Christmas trees grown, up to one ton of carbon is sequestered. In the U.S., there are approximately 350,000 acres dedicated to growing Christmas trees.
Post-holiday landfill avoidance of live trees makes a huge difference
The biggest impact of a live tree turns out to be how you dispose of it. The net carbon footprint of a live tree that is composted or mulched is around 6.8 lbs. per year. Compare that to 35 lbs., which is the estimated carbon footprint of a tree that is sent to a landfill. The reason for that jump in carbon is because trees that decompose in a landfill – specifically those that are contained and cut off from oxygen – can produce methane. In other words, when you kick your tree to the curb and it’s taken to a landfill, you risk a carbon footprint that is five times higher than if you recycle, mulch or compost your tree.
Recycling resources for holiday trees vary across the country and are usually a service of local municipalities. Contact your local store for more information about recycling trees in your area.
The Pros and Cons of Artificial Holiday Trees
The carbon footprint of artificial trees is lower than you think
According to an independent ellipsos life cycle assessment, the carbon footprint of an artificial tree is 8.1 kgs, or 17.8 lbs., per year. This is based on an average six-year lifespan. The two biggest factors contributing to the carbon emissions of artificial trees are manufacturing and shipping.
Most artificial trees sold in the U.S. are made in China, shipped from factory to port and transported overseas via container ship. Once in the U.S., they take a reverse journey from port to store via truck. By the time an artificial tree reaches shoppers, it has traveled about 8,400 miles in total.
Artificial trees are reusable
Artificial trees have a few obvious advantages to live trees, including convenience, and long-term cost. When it comes to sustainability, however, artificial trees have one big advantage: they are reusable.
In addition, every year that an artificial tree is pulled from the attic or basement and reused, shoppers can avoid a trip to the store, thereby reducing emissions. If the average lifespan of an artificial tree is six years, it means that shoppers are cutting out six trips to and from the store or tree lot. By using an artificial tree for 10 years or longer, the overall carbon footprint of that tree is reduced even further.
Find the perfect tree for your holiday
No matter what type of tree you decide to gather around this holiday, you’ll find it at The Home Depot. Shop our selection of live and artificial trees to find the perfect tree for your holiday home.