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The Great Christmas Tree Debate: Real or Artificial?

Going with a real tree for Christmas is being green — for some. "If you choose a real Christmas tree over an artificial one, count yourself among the 'greener' holiday makers," said Jon Hoekstra, science director for The Nature Conservancy in Washington.

According to the conservancy, 30 million trees are harvested annually for Christmas, out of the 350 to 500 million growing on tree farms across the country. As each year's tree are harvested for sale, there are more than 10 times as many left standing. A tradition of buying real trees keeps farms in business — and their lands covered in forest. About 10 million artificial trees are purchased each year and 90 percent are shipped to the U.S. from China. Artificial trees are not recyclable, according to the conservancy.

Some tips to be even more "green" with a real tree is to use LED lights or to visit a cut-your-own tree farm instead of purchasing a pre-cut tree to ensure that the tree wasn't shipped from outside of the state.Other suggestions from the conservancy include making garland out of popcorn or cranberries instead of using non-recyclable tinsel and collecting pine cones or shells to use as ornaments. More tips for a green holiday season can be found at http://blog.nature.org/green-gift-Monday/.

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