INDIANAPOLIS - Many Hoosiers will be making the big decision over the Thanksgiving weekend: whether to buy an artificial or real Christmas tree - a choice with both environmental and economic impacts. Bill Ulfelder of The Nature Conservancy, points out that natural Christmas trees provide major environmental benefits, including capturing global-warming emissions and preventing erosion. On the other hand, he says most ‘fake’ trees are manufactured abroad using polyvinyl chlorides (PVCs). ”Folks use an artificial tree for about five or six years - so, energy-intensive to produce, energy-intensive to ship - and then it just sits there in the landfill and doesn’t biodegrade.” However, Ulfelder says twice as many Americans still buy artificial trees, which typically are imported from Asia. He adds there are many environmental advantages to making the switch to real Christmas trees.__"They capture climate-changing gases from the atmosphere, so they help abate climate change; they're putting oxygen into the air for us to breathe. They're good for wildlife mammals, birds, and insects."__This year, The Nature Conservancy also sees making the switch to a real tree as a benefit for the U.S. economy. Producing Christmas trees is a $1 billion industry that provides 100,000 jobs at more than 12,000 tree farms nationwide. Ulfelder says buying fresh, local trees also helps farmers.
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