REAL TREE OR ARTIFICIAL : Which is greener?

It's the centrepiece of the biggest holiday of the year for many American families : the Christmas tree, the focal point for parties and presents., replete with favorite ornament and lights.

Some cherish the real scent of real tree and the tradition of bringing it home, while others prefer the tidier and easier option of plastic variety.

But which is better for the environment?

Here's a look at the some of the central claims - and the common misconceptions in the debate:

Cutting down trees is always bad for the environment.

Don't feel bad about the cutting down a tree for the holiday. Christmas trees are crops grown on the farms, like lettuce or corn. They are not cut down from wild forests on a large scale, said Bert Cregg, an expert in Christmas tree production and forestry at  Michigan State university.

At  five-or six-foot tree takes just under a decade to grow, and once it's cut down, the former will generally at least one in its place.

''The trees provide many benefit for the environment as they grow, cleaning the air and providing watersheds and habitats for wildlife. They grow best on rolling hills that are often unsuitable for for other crops and, of course, they are biodegradable.

Oregon is the country's biggest grower, followed by North Carolina. Many other states are also have sizable Christmas tree farms, which preserve open land from the from development by their every existence.

Big growers tend to dominate in Oregon, like Holiday Farms, which uses helicopters to harvest about a million trees annually, for sale at  big-box stores and other locations.

In western North Carolina, the farms tend to be smaller, like the ones owned by Larry Smith, who has been growing trees for 40 years.

His business, Mountain Top Frazer Fir, was chosen to supply this year's White House Christmas tree, a  19-foot specimen on display in the Blue Room.

''Tell the kids and grandkids to keep buying real trees  so we keep the local economy strong and we don't have to sell the land to to the rich people from New York City to make condos,'' Mr. Smith said.

The honor and serving of the latest Operational Research on Christmas Trees and Buying continues. The World Students Society thanks author and researcher Karen Zraick.


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