At least, that's according to a study reported by Terra Daily:
The company, which uses no capitals in its name, ellipsos inc., said its analysis in a Life Cycle Assessment found real trees generate 6.8 pounds of greenhouse gases compared with 17.8 pounds for an artificial tree per year.
"The results are astonishing", ellipsos President Jean-Sebastien Trudel said in a release. "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."
Research process factors ranged from the extraction of raw materials to travel to marketing and purchase to disposal, the company said.
The study found an artificial tree would need to be kept for at least 20 years to be equivalent to a real tree, although consumers keep an artificial tree for six years on average, the report said.
Of course, a truly "green" person will mimic Ebenezer Scrooge and forego not only real and artificial trees, but also the orgy of eating, economic stimulus boosting, and other ecologically damaging festivities that go along with various winter solstice holiday celebrations.
Disclosure: My wife and I buy and decorate a real winter solstice bush each year. We do recycle our decorations.