Christmas Tree Sales: Pine Still Beating Plastic

In the United States, there's a great debate every December: whether a real Christmas tree is better than a fake one.

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In the United States, there's a great debate every December: whether a real Christmas tree is better than a fake one. People who favor the real option point out that it's more authentic and boasts an incredible smell. Some might even go as far as saying that the holidays just wouldn't be the same without that smell. Proponents of the plastic option usually point out that a fake tree doesn't turn brown and shed its needles all over the floor. Additionally, it's easier to remove after the holidays than the real thing. 

According to data from the National Christmas Tree Association, a real tree costs about $75 while a fake one retails for approximately $100. Taking that into account, a fake tree might prove more economical over the years through repeated use, an obvious benefit for families on a budget. Then again, in the wake of the global backlash against plastic, polyvinyl chloride trees might be viewed negatively in some quarters. While growing millions of real trees and transporting them to the market certainly creates a global carbon footprint, they can be recycled easily. The same cannot be said for a fake tree stuffed with PVC which is practically impossible to recycle. In most cases, it will end up in a landfill and stay there for thousands of years. 

So, after taking a look at both sides of the debate, what does the sales landscape look like? The National Christmas Tree Association says that pine is still beating plastic but that the fake option is gathering momentum. Sales of plastic trees increased from an estimated 18.6 million in 2016 to 21.17 million in 2017, an increase of 13 percent. Meanwhile, sales of fake trees have remained at a constant 27.4 million in 2016 and 2017.

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