Real or artificial: Which Christmas tree is better for your wallet and the environment?

Christmas trees — real and artificial — are increasing in price this year. 

Most wholesale growers say they have to charge up to 15% more. The average cost of a real tree was nearly $70 in 2021, according to the National Christmas Tree Association. This year, a real tree is expected to cost between $80 and $100, per the Real Christmas Tree Board.

“There’s a lot of labor in a Christmas tree,” said Los Angeles Christmas tree lot owner Tina Callas. 

Callas said she is also seeing supply shortages. 

For artificial trees, high shipping fees from China are adding to the cost. 

Larry Gold, president of Aldik Home, which sells top-of-the-line trees with built-in LED lights in Los Angeles, said he also had to raise prices. Some of his trees cost more than $1,000. Gold said cheaper trees may not look as real, or last as long. 

But which tree has more impact on the environment — the real ones that are cut down every year, or artificial ones made of plastic that are reused? 

Bill Ulfelder, executive director of the Nature Conservancy, said a real tree is “unquestionably” better for the environment because live Christmas trees are a renewable resource. 

“The only debate is around the carbon footprint,” Ulfelder said. 

Ulfelder explained that you would have to keep an artificial Christmas tree for years for it to potentially have a lower carbon footprint than a real tree. 

“I’ve seen some figures say seven or eight years. I’ve seen some as long as 20,” he said. “So it’s not an insignificant amount of time.” 

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