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Real vs. Fake Christmas Trees: Which are Better for Michigan?

PHOTO: Selecting a family Christmas tree is more than just a chance for making memories, say Michigan tree farmers. It also helps the state's economy. Photo courtesy MCTA.
PHOTO: Selecting a family Christmas tree is more than just a chance for making memories, say Michigan tree farmers. It also helps the state's economy. Photo courtesy MCTA.
November 29, 2013

HOWELL, Mich. – Many Michiganders are decking the halls and decorating their Christmas trees this weekend, and the choice between a real tree and an artificial one has both economic and environmental impacts.

Marsha Gray, executive director of the Michigan Christmas Tree Association, points out that most artificial trees are manufactured overseas, require great amounts of energy to produce and ship, and are typically used for five to six years before being thrown out – where they sit in landfills and don't decompose.

On the other hand, she says real trees are grown on farms and, just like any other crop, they are harvested each year and replanted.

"While it's growing it's providing oxygen, preventing soil erosion,” she points out. “It's a wonderful wildlife habitat. And then after you've had your Christmas tree for the season, no matter where it ends up, it's completely biodegradable. "

A list of Michigan Christmas tree lots, including pre-cut as well as cut-your-own locations, is on the Michigan Christmas Tree Association's website.

Michigan ranks third in the nation for Christmas tree production.

Gray says this year, nearly three million Christmas trees will be harvested in the state, to the tune of roughly $50 million in sales.

"Probably about two-thirds of those will leave the state, so it's really an income generator for the state,” she says. “Not only are we selling here locally to our neighbors and friends, we are shipping trees all across the country. "

Gray adds many of the state's growers participate in the Trees for Troops program, through which people can donate a tree to be sent to a military family.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - MI