Faux vs. Fir: The Christmas Tree Debate

The Christmas Tree is one of the most prominent symbols throughout history that marks the Christmas season. For centuries, families have ventured into the woods in the cold of winter to find that perfect Fir or Spruce to decorate their living room for the holiday season. With the invention of the artificial Christmas tree came convenience, wide-spread popularity, and decorations that last for years.

Christmas Tree Farm

It’s commonly believed that buying an artificial Christmas tree saves money and the environment – spending money once, using the tree year after year, and saving a tree from being cut down. With over 34 million harvested trees sold in the US each year compared with 10 million artificial trees, which is the healthier, more eco-friendly choice? 

Advantages of Artificial Trees

🎄 Cost savings. Buy once and enjoy the tree year after year.
🎄 Convenience. Many artificial trees are pre-decorated, easy to setup, and easily stored within the home, typically a basement or garage.
🎄 It’s always that “perfect shape”.
🎄 No messy pine needles. No watering.
🎄 Longevity. Artificial trees last an average of 7-9 years.

 Artificial Christmas Trees

Disadvantages of Artificial Trees

Made from plastic polyvinyl chloride (PVC), which is a petroleum-based, non-biodegradable plastic.
Health hazard. The extremely toxic chemical dioxin is released during PVC production and inside the home over time. When released into the air or water, these toxins are stored in fatty tissue and can cause cancer, neurological damage, and many other serious health issues to both humans and animals. Older trees can also contain lead.
Can’t be recycled. Not only is PVC is non-biodegradable, but because the plastic fibers are fused and glued to the metal frame, artificial trees cannot be recycled.
Made in China. Over 85% of artificial trees sold in the U.S. are made in China and shipped overseas, consuming oil and fuel and releasing carbon emissions. 
Fire hazard. Artificial trees are vulnerable when decorators overload electrical sockets with Christmas tree lights 

Advantages of Real Trees

🎄 Grown in the US. Few Christmas trees come from forests anymore. According to the USDA, almost all of the real Christmas trees sold in the US. are grown by US. farmers in all 50 states, making fresh Christmas trees easy to find locally.
🎄 Buy Local. An average of 25-30 million real trees are sold each year, helping employ over 100,000 workers and support small local farmers.
🎄 That fresh pine smell. Any of the evergreen trees create a wonderful tree scent, however, some are stronger than others. Douglas Fir tends to be the best to create that natural tree smell, the white fir has a lighter scent. A combination of spruce, pine and fir is also lovely.
🎄 Recyclable. Of the 33 million sold, 93% of Christmas trees are recycled through over 4000 programs. (Learn how to recycle your tree at Earth911.org)
🎄 Family fun. Venturing to find your own tree can be fun. Each tree is unique in its own way, and discovering the “perfect tree” is a great way to make memories with friends and family.

Christmas Tree Recycle

Disadvantages of Real Trees

Annual Expense. Most trees run $20-$70, but can exceed $200.
Mess and maintenance. Real tress must be watered continuously and will drop needles on the floor.
Allergens. Trees can carry allergens.
Pesticides. Unless organic, most real trees are usually grown with pesticides that are toxic to wildlife and people. The Environmental Protection Agency has banned indoor use of some of the pesticides used on Christmas trees, such as chlorpyrifos and malathion, which can cause damage to human nervous systems.
Depending on where you live, trees may be transported for hundreds of miles.

Real trees win 

Why pollute your holiday with toxic plastics and hazardous heavy metals? The durability and convenience of fake Christmas trees may sound good, but doesn’t compare to the healthier, more eco-friendly annual evergreen.

Tree Farm


Stephanie Boyd
Stephanie Boyd

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