The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author alone and do not necessarily represent the position of ZU Media or APU

‘Tis the season to save the planet and help others. Buying a real Christmas tree instead of investing in a fake one helps Mother Earth, local businesses, and you and your loved ones. 

Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone it’s officially time to crank up the festive tunes, hang the stockings with care and, best of all, put up the Christmas tree. Because, come on, can you really be ready for St. Nick if you can’t be “rockin’ around the Christmas tree?” 

Though, let’s not forget about the famous feud that comes along with the reintroduction of Christmas tree season: the fake v.s. fresh debate. Are you someone who sifts through the attack to find the beloved ceiling-tall tree basking in all of its PVC plastic glory? Or do you prefer finding a fresh, fragrant friend to take home every year? There’s no doubt that both options have their pros and cons. But after a year like 2020 where the Earth and those around us could use a little extra love, buying a fresh Christmas tree is your best option by far — here’s why.

You’re helping the environment and improving air quality 

Though it’s a common misconception that chopping down a real Christmas tree is bad for the environment, it’s actually quite the opposite. Because the vast majority of accessible real trees are grown at local Christmas tree farms, they were made to be chopped down and brought home (please don’t just go into the forest and cut down some innocent bystanding branches). 

Real trees take approximately 8 to 12 years to grow. So while they’re cleaning the air and slowing climate change by releasing oxygen for approximately a decade, the least we can do is adopt them at the end of their life span. On top of that, farmers aren’t able to plant new trees until old ones are cut down, so by taking home a tree, you’re allowing a farmer to plant one or two new trees that’ll help the environment for the next ten years to come. 

You’re bettering your mental health 

I know, I didn’t believe it at first either. That glorious pine smell that graces your home during the holiday season isn’t just good for boosting your mood and serving as a smoke-free candle. According to a psychological study conducted in Japan, the festive forest-y smell of pine needles has actually been linked with lowered levels of stress, anxiety and depression — all things many of us have battled with this year. 

So, instead of smelling plastic or other synthetic materials this season, pick up a real tree and be greeted with a refreshing aroma that’ll better your mental health as we prepare to enter the new year. 

You’re supporting small businesses

Small businesses have taken an unprecedented blow this year due to the month-long shutdowns we’re all well-acquainted with. Buying a tree from a local Christmas tree farm may seem like a small act, but you could be doing a small business a great deal of help. Especially because the majority of local Christmas tree farms are family-owned, one sale does truly make a difference.

Sure, it could be easier to run to your local Target and pick up the first fake Christmas tree you see on sale. However, visiting a local Christmas tree farm to hand-pick your tree is not only helping a small business but allows for a great, safe way to make memories with your loved ones. 

You’re saving money

Though it may not be much, when we’re in the middle of gift-giving season, every penny counts. However, it may not be true in all cases. According to data recorded in 2018 from the National Christmas Tree Association, the average price of a fake Christmas tree was $104, while the average price for a real Christmas tree was only $78. 

Of course, it depends on what tree you’re looking for, but if we’re talking about averages here, buying a real Christmas tree is the safest way to save you some cash in a year.

You’re preventing waste

Last, but certainly not least, when January comes rolling around and you’re ready to say goodbye to the holiday decor, you’re doing the environment a favor yet again. Real Christmas trees are 100% biodegradable, meaning they can be recycled in a variety of ways. Whether they’re disposed of in lakes or ponds to provide habitats for underwater wildlife or ground up into mulch to be spread out to start a new growth process, these trees can easily serve the environment after they’ve served their holiday purpose. 

Though many argue that purchasing a fake tree is more resourceful because they can be used for years to come, disposing of your real tree isn’t just unharmful to the environment, but helpful. Instead of disposing of an artificial tree that’ll inevitably end up in a landfill, invest in a real tree and help the environment from the second it’s chopped down until you’re ready to say goodbye. 

It’s the season of giving, and what better way to do that than give back to the local businesses providing for us and the earth we too often take for granted. Buying a real tree is such a small gesture that can have such a huge impact (that can also lead to making amazing memories!). So, leave that old, artificial tree and your attic and go get some fresh pine for your home this holiday season. It’ll benefit you, your loved ones, the community, and the place we call home.