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Fake vs. Real Christmas Trees? You Might Be Surprised at This Answer

November 25, 2011

LAS VEGAS - Many Nevadans will be making the big decision this weekend: whether to buy an artificial or real Christmas tree. It's a choice with both environmental and economic impacts.

Jane Feldman, conservation chair for the Sierra Club Southern Nevada Group, says natural Christmas trees offer some major environmental advantages, including capturing global-warming pollution and preventing erosion. On the other hand, she says most 'fake' trees are manufactured abroad using polyvinyl chlorides (PVCs).

"So, there's a large transportation bill in fossil fuels to transport those trees from overseas here to Nevada; and of course, since they are made of petrochemicals, when they hit our landfills, they don't biodegrade."

However, twice as many Americans still buy artificial trees. Feldman points out that making the switch to a real tree not only helps the environment, but the U.S. economy as well. Natural Christmas tree production is a $1 billion industry that provides 100,000 jobs nationwide.

Bill Ulfelder with The Nature Conservancy is also a fan of the environmental benefits of real trees.

"They capture climate-changing gases from the atmosphere, so they help abate climate change; they're putting oxygen into the air for us to breathe. They're good for wildlife - mammals, birds, insects."

And for Nevadans who really want to get back to nature, Feldman says you can also chop down your own tree – as long as you have the proper permit.

"Both the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service allow harvesting in some areas in Nevada on public lands."

Learn more about getting a Christmas Tree tag at www.blm.gov.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NV