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The industry for real Christmas trees is a small business holiday all year. Did you know Americans spend over a billion dollars on their Christmas trees? While most fake Christmas trees are petroleum-based and manufactured in China out of non-recyclable plastic, a real Christmas tree is a renewable, recyclable, and American-made product that employs local people year-round, not just on a seasonal basis.

Christmas trees are, for the most part, sold by small businesses. It takes over 15,000 small farms to produce the 27 million Christmas trees Americans buy every December. Yes, a small percentage of trees come down from Canada, but they are grown in all 50 states with the highest yield coming from farms in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Oregon, Washington, Wisconsin, and Michigan.

The industry employs over 100,000 people on over 350,000 acres of U.S. farmland. Most trees are planted between January and March, but the process of pruning them into the cone shape customers want takes all year.

Christmas trees are a green and sustainable business model. When one tree is harvested, 1-3 more seedlings are planted in its place. And while the trees are growing, they’re doing what trees do best, cleaning the air, stabilizing soil, and providing refuge for cute little critters. They also preserve green spaces in a world that clear cuts more trees every year for urban development. As an added bonus to farmers, Christmas trees grow in soil that doesn’t support other crops, making the most of all their acreage.

Some fans of fake trees dislike the idea of killing a living thing, but real Christmas trees have the “circle of life” factor. When they are done spreading holiday cheer, they are biodegradable and easily recycled or composted back into the earth. Artificial trees, replaced every few years, spend eternity in landfills. Many local farmers, like Sunflower Farm Creamery in Maine, request discarded evergreens from their communities because they are a delicious and nutritious snack for their goats.

These real Christmas tree facts are more than just holiday trivia: they’re living proof that in the most commercialized time of year, real good is being done for farmers and local communities.