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Minnesotans Weigh Benefits of Real Christmas Trees

November 28, 2011

LAKEVILLE, Minn. - With Christmas just weeks away, many Minnesotans are deciding whether to buy a real tree or an artificial one. Donna Revak, owner of the Revak Nursery in Lakeville, points out that a real tree comes with many environmental advantages, long before you bring it home to decorate.

"A real tree will help stop soil erosion. It'll provide homes for animals. It beautifies the landscape; they change carbon dioxide into oxygen; and they're naturally renewable."

Revak says getting a real Christmas tree has become a tradition for some, and a way to bring families together.

"We've been selling trees since 1985 and we have customers that have been with us since the very beginning. We're part of their family tradition."

Bill Ulfelder, director of the Nature Conservancy, says as they grow, natural Christmas trees provide such environmental benefits as capturing global-warming pollution and preventing erosion. On the other hand, he says, most artificial trees are manufactured overseas, using polyvinyl chlorides or PVCs.

"Folks use an artificial tree for about five or six years. So, energy-intensive to produce, energy-intensive to ship, and then it just sits there in the landfill and doesn't biodegrade."

Ulfelder says there are many environmental benefits to real Christmas 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..."

According to the Nature Conservancy, choosing a real tree not only helps the environment, it also helps the economy. Natural Christmas tree production is a $1 billion industry nationwide that provides 100,000 jobs. But the group says twice as many Americans buy artificial trees as real ones, and those fake firs usually come from Asia.

More information is at www.mncta.com and at bit.ly/tAidBs

John Michaelson, Public News Service - MN