‘Tis the Season for Creative Arborescent Decision-Making

photo credit: Carol Fernandez

photo credit: Carol Fernandez

Real Vs. Fake Trees – Which is Better for the Environment?

Tis the season for an age-old question: Which kind of Christmas tree – real or fake – is better for the environment?

We love this question, because it’s an example of a simple choice that anyone and everyone can make that can reduce our impacts on the environment.

We also love this question because, like many environmental issues, the answer isn’t as simple as you might think. Our #1 recommendation? Buy a real tree. Read on for more details on the impacts of both real and fake Christmas trees, and then make the choice that’s right for you. And check out our 12 Tree Tips for other earth-friendly holiday decoration tips.


In 2015, 26.9 million trees were purchased from live Christmas tree farms – more than twice the number of fake trees purchased (12 million).  

There are more than 350K acres of family farms growing mini forests of Christmas trees in the U.S. – plus another 76K in Canada! That’s a lot of land kept busy absorbing carbon out of the atmosphere every year – a true natural climate solution. If you buy your tree from a “U-Pick” farm, of which 32% of you did in 2015, then know that each tree cut from a farm is typically replaced by 1-3 seedlings, which continue removing carbon from the air.

However, if you’re one of the other 68% who buys a real tree from a chain, local nonprofit, or other retail store or group, then make sure you know where those trees are from. Locally-harvested trees – just like locally-grown foods – are the best choice for the environment. Locally-harvested trees reduce the impacts on climate change (because they’re not traveling far) and reduce the likelihood that non-native species could hitch a ride in your tree and eventually invade a new habitat.

All this said, for many years we’ve chosen a different direction when it comes to creating a festive atmosphere in our properties throughout the world.  In Asia and the Americas, the majority of our resorts are located in the 10th latitude, tropical areas that make the “archetypal” Christmas tree seem inappropriate. As a more ecological and location driven alternative we’ve challenged our teams to craft trees from either upcycled or natural local materials: bamboo, vines and fallen branches, or in the case of an urban location: steel wire. Add handmade paper and natural fibre ornaments, a little light, and you’ve made magic with eco-ingenuity.

‘Tis the season, indeed!

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