Although artificial trees can be used year after year, they are not the sustainable choice. They do not last forever and are usually discarded after only a few years. At some point, they will end up in a landfill. As they are made of petroleum products (PVC), they will not biodegrade. They also use up resources during their manufacture and are often shipped from around the world, where they have been manufactured in a factory that may not have been certified as ethical.
A fresh cut Christmas tree that has been grown locally is a good option – especially if it is grown organically, with no pesticides. This is a renewable resource, with two or more trees being planted for every one cut and sold. They are grown in managed farms, not just clear cut from the landscape. Live trees contribute to air quality while they are growing and the vast majority are recycled. We stick ours outside after Christmas with a garland of cranberries and popcorn to feed the birds before we send it off to be recycled for its next life as mulch! If you get a locally grown tree, it won’t have travelled far and it’s helping to employ local people.
Even better, you can buy a live, potted tree. If you buy a small one in a large pot, you can use it for 2 or 3 years without having to re-pot the tree. You can re-plant the tree in your garden when it gets too large to use as a Christmas tree. Be sure to remember that this will grow in to a full-grown tree when considering this option. Do not plant it near any structures or pipes. A local school, park or arboretum might be very happy to re-home your tree when you are done with it.