Montreal, Tuesday December 16, 2008 – The natural Christmas tree has lower impacts on the environment than the artificial tree, according to an independent Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) conducted by ellipsos inc., a firm of experts in sustainable development. Results show that a natural tree will generate 3.1 kg of greenhouse gases whereas the artificial tree will produce 8.1 kg per year.

“The results are astonishing”, says Jean-Sébastien Trudel, president of ellipsos and co-author of the study. “Considering that the artificial tree is reusable for many years, one would think that this choice is best since the natural tree requires annual trips to purchase it.”

ellipsos chose the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) method to perform this study. It follows the recognized ISO 14040 and 14044 standards and it was reviewed by an independent third-party of peers. This approach takes into account the tree environmental impacts, from the extraction of raw materials to the end of life. While natural trees also have environmental impacts, the LCA shows that an artificial tree would need to be kept for at least 20 years to be equivalent! Currently, people keep it for six years, on average.

Interestingly, to compensate for the impacts of a Christmas tree, be it natural or artificial, one can offset the carbon emissions by carpooling or biking to work only one to three weeks per year, according to ellipsos. “Knowing this, the most ecological choice between the natural and the artificial Christmas tree becomes anecdotal. Regardless of the chosen type of tree, the impacts on the environment are negligible if compared to other activities, such as driving solo to work on a daily basis”, concludes Jean-Sébastien Trudel.

ellipsos helps businesses adopt sustainable management practices by using recognized scientific approaches such as the LCA. To get a copy of the study, consult our web site at and continue this discussion on our blog at

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