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Answering the age-old question: paper or plastic?

PLATTSBURGH - Does your Christmas tree belong on the naughty or nice list?

The Christmas tree is the protector of presents, a shelter for Christmas lights and a structure for ornaments that can have a lasting memory in family photos and the hearts of the people who have enjoyed them.

But what will be the lasting impression of that same tree after the lights and tinsel have been taken from the tree? What will be the environmental effect?

Every year, people call the state Department of Environmental Conservation to ask what would be more environmentally friendly - purchasing a living tree or a manufactured tree that can be used for many years.

"There are environmental benefits to using both a real tree and using an artificial tree for the holidays, but in general a real tree will be a lot more beneficial," said Lori Severino, press officer for the DEC. "A lot of people worry about cutting down a tree. We tell them you don't have to worry or feel guilty."

For every tree cut down at a tree farm, Severino explained usually one to three seedlings are planted in its place, continually contributing to the environment.

"If you already have a plastic tree, that is fine because people generally reuse their artificial tree for many years," Severino said. "If possible, we recommend that if someone no longer needs their tree because they are moving and don't want to take it with them or they would like to buy a new tree we suggest that they donate the tree so that other people can use the tree."

"In that way the artificial tree can be recycled, where otherwise it can't," she added.

After the Christmas season, real Christmas trees can continue to contribute to local areas, according to Casella Waste Management market area manager Bill Meyers.

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