Christmas tree farmers are turning a profit on their product for the first time in over a decade.
Millennials have been blamed for “killing” a number of things from napkins to diamonds to the divorce rate, but in a shocking turn of events, the youngsters are now being thanked for their services, as Vox reports that the Christmas tree industry is thriving thanks to the resurgence of real Christmas trees that are the preferred choice of millennials.
According to Square Inc., a financial services company that partnered with the National Christmas Tree Association for their million-dollar “Keep It Real” campaign highlighting the benefits of real Christmas trees, the influx of millennials in the Christmas tree market are a major reason for the revival of live trees and a profitable industry for the first time in years.
Per Square Inc., the 30 percent rise in the purchase of artificial trees since 1992 was due to baby boomers becoming empty-nesters as their children grew up, no longer feeling the need to go through the hassle of bracing the winter temperatures for a live tree. But now, their millennial kids have become young adults who shop for trees of their own and are leaning towards the real Christmas trees from their childhoods, which the National Christmas Tree Association posits is in part because of its nostalgic aspect as well as the ever-growing concern for the environment.
For years, many were under the impression that artificial PVC trees were actually more environmentally friendly, believing that chopping down a tree depleted it of its natural resources. One shopper even told the New York Times in 2010 that her artificial tree would save 10 real ones from being cut down over the decade that she intended to use it.
In reality, farmers grow Christmas trees with the intention of cutting them down and sending them to market, and they require considerably fewer resources to grow than the artificial options composed of PVC plastic, steel, and aluminum, not to mention packaging and other materials required to send them from Asia–where Vox noted the majority of them are manufactured–to the United States.
Real trees also boast a positive effect on the environment post-holiday season, as they can be recycled or turned into mulch or biofuel, while fake trees, not being recyclable or biodegradable, sit in landfills for generations adding to plastic pollution.
“You’re not doing any harm by cutting down a Christmas tree,” botanist Cling Springer told the New York Times. “A lot of people think artificial is better because you’re preserving the life of a tree. But in this case, you’ve got a crop that’s being raised for that purpose.”
And while the demand for real Christmas trees has also attributed to a 17 percent rise in price for the holiday decor staple, increasing from an average of $62 to $73 from 2015-2017, it is for this reason alone that the industry is finally thriving.
“While prices have increased over the past two years, this is the first time in more than a decade that many local tree farmers are profitable,” the National Christmas Tree Association’s Executive Director Tim O’Connor told Square Up. “Now more than ever, we hope to see families support American Christmas tree farmers, and create their own holiday tradition and family memories of choosing a locally grown tree this Christmas.”
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