Christmas trees: Artificial vs Real

I have had it in my mind for the last many years that I am doing the world a favour by using an artificial Christmas tree. There was no way that anyone could tell me that buying a real tree each year and then throwing it out 2 weeks later was a better option for the environment (or my pocket book) than buying a fake tree and using it for many years.

For whatever reason, I decided to do some online searches on the subject this evening.

Of course, what I was looking for was environmental and health issues. I was shocked to discover a number of sites that didn’t touch on the subject at all when comparing artificial and real trees! What year is this?! Are people really that out of touch that they can’t discuss the environmental issues?

Anyway, it turns out that there are plenty of organizations (and individuals) that can give loads of reasons for their opinion and against the opposing view. For example, artificial trees are made from PVC, which is not recyclable (see this Greenpeace article for more information) and if they are old, contain lead. Lots of trees have warnings on/in their boxes that tell you not to eat or inhale particles that come out of the box or off the tree. That’s a bit alarming…

On the other hand, real trees are recyclable and, if bought from a local nursery and not the chain store that ships them in, provide work in your community, save on shipping and pollution, etc. They smell good. BUT they are messy and pokey and can only stay up for a short amount of time. In the end, they cost more.

The best option is to go with a live Christmas tree. That’s right, one with the roots still attached. That way you can plant it in your yard after Christmas! (Keep in mind, if you live anywhere cold then you can only have it in your house for a very limited amount of time so that it doesn’t wake up, start to grow, and then die when it goes back out in the cold.) This would be really expensive to do each year. And how much room do you have in your yard to plant spruce trees?

Needless to say, my opinion has changed. I really don’t know what I think any more, but at least I got my butt kicked out of thinking fake trees were the way to go.

What do you think?

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5 responses

  1. Nice work looking this stuff up. We should probably do that with everything!

    I think in the future we should maybe go real. maybe just a potted Charlie Brown tree.

    But what do we do with the old fake one?

    06/12/2010 at 09:38

  2. katrina

    I like the idea of a potted real tree, too, but you know the size of our ‘garden’ here! I love the smell of a real tree, too. That’s good stuff.
    Having said all that, we have a tiny little fake Asda’s Best tree that someone else bought us our first Christmas in Aberdeen.
    Oh well…

    06/12/2010 at 22:23

    • yeah, we currently have a lovely little number purchased by me from argos last year. back in canada we have a lovely big number that we got at a garage sale and is probably over 10 years old, making it highly possible that it contains things i don’t want to think about!

      06/12/2010 at 23:18

  3. Philbert

    I think that I am now worried that our old, fake christmas tree contains lead.

    31/12/2010 at 14:50

  4. Jen Hansen

    This was the first year we had a real tree because Josiah’s school had an amazing fundraiser. $27 for an 8 foot tree, and $5 went to the school. So, given the good cause, good price, and I must admit, the new house..we opted for the live tree. It was so beautiful! It smelled amazing. It took up half our living room, and I felt like Chevy Chase when we cut the strings off it. But, I couldn’t help but feel bad every night when I looked at it and thought that I had cut it’s life short so I could enjoy it in my living room for 3 weeks.

    My guilt was lessened by 3 things. First, it was grown locally on a tree farm, specifically to be used for Christmas. It was grown with the intention of being cut. Secondly, there are environmental benefits to having and supporting local tree farms and not creating a need for manufacturing more artificial trees. The oxygenation issue, habitat for creatures, no lead, etc. And finally, our city collects trees, unbagged, for chipping and composting in early January. So, it grew, it was adored, and then it returned to the soil. Somehow that sat better with me than our artificial tree. This was a first for me too. I think my mind is forever changed.

    06/02/2011 at 03:24

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