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There are many options to consider when choosing a Christmas tree for your home, including a fresh cut tree, an artificial tree or a living tree. Fresh-cut trees are grown on Christmas tree farms, an acre of which provides the daily oxygen requirements of 18 people and contributes other benefits to the environment such as improving air and water quality. Although cut trees cannot be replanted, they can often be recycled or turned into compost. Another option is an artificial tree, which prevents in-home tree allergies, is reusable and can last many years. However, artificial trees cannot be recycled and are often made with polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic — a product that can cause air pollution during its production and contain traces of lead. Finally, living, un-cut Christmas trees are a third option. Living trees are those that still have their roots and can be replanted outdoors after the holidays.
Viewer Tip: If you choose to buy a Christmas tree, find a local treecycling program. Recycled trees can serve many uses, such as garden mulch and wildlife habitat. In choosing an artificial tree, be sure to read warning labels carefully. If you choose a living, un-cut holiday tree, be sure that it is a species native to your area; this will increase its chances of survival when you replant it in your yard. Many living Christmas trees are grown in cool climates — different from the warmer, more humid conditions in your living room. So, be sure to leave it in a protected outdoor area for a few days before bringing it indoors and again before replanting it.
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(Sources: University of Illinois Extension. “Christmas Tree Facts.”; National Christmas Tree Association; Earth 911: “Real vs. Artificial Christmas Trees” and “How-To Guide to Treecycling.” Image: Minnesota Department of Agriculture.)