BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) — If you think you are saving the trees by using an artificial Christmas tree, think again. Fake Christmas trees may actually be more harmful to the environment in the long run.
While an artificial Christmas tree is reusable for at least a few years, sooner or later it will likely end up in a landfill.
Sherrie Hunter with the Raleigh County Solid Waste Authority said every year after Christmas, plastic Christmas trees show up to the landfill.
“Fake Christmas trees are not biodegradable, so they’re going to stay in the landfill, they’re not going to decompose,” said Hunter.
However, live Christmas trees are a renewable and biodegradable natural resource. There are a number of environmentally-friendly ways to dispose of them after the holidays.
A popular way to recycle your Christmas tree is to chop it into mulch. Artificial trees are not recyclable and can only end up in the trash.
Hunter said after the Holidays, you can bring your live tree to the solid waste authority and they will recycle it for free.
“You bring it to the landfill and then it gets chopped up and you can buy the mulch in the spring time,” Hunter said.
People can also find out if their city has a Christmas Tree recycling program. The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources can also use trees for fish habitats.
There is economic benefit to live trees, too. Sarah Anderson was selling live trees along Ritter Drive for the Beaver Lions club.
“It helps support local farmers, they’re very good about the conservation of the trees, they replant,” said Anderson.
According to WVDNR, it takes about seven years to raise a Christmas tree. In that time, it is absorbing carbon dioxide, filtering the air and releasing oxygen.
“It’s one of those things where its nice to know that you’re not generating any waste,” said Hunter. “You’re getting your tree and then its being recycled.”
According to study from the University of Iowa, 93 percent of Americans recycle their Christmas trees.