Monday, December 5, 2011

Real or Artificial?

Christmas trees are appearing in homes throughout the country and families prepare for the holiday season. But in this age when we are all asked to be aware of the impact we are having on the environment, is the right choice to purchase an artificial tree and use it year after year, or go in search of the perfect living tree to be the centerpiece of our holiday decorating?

The answer may surprise you.

Christmas Tree

Artificial trees do offer a long-term solution for your Christmas tree decorating needs. And I have to admit, the latest generation of “fake” trees don’t look that fake. They’ve come a long way from the first artificial trees that were actually manufactured by a toilet brush company. That’s right, the first artificial tree was pretty much a really tall, green, toilet brush. But today, until you get close, you’d be hard pressed to distinguish the artificial trees from the real thing… except of course for the missing fresh pine smell.

Economically, artificial trees can also be easier on your wallet. For the cost of a single large live tree, you can purchase an artificial tree that looks the same but will last for several holiday seasons. Sticker shock has become part of the annual trek out to find the family Christmas tree at a local tree lot. If you want your real tree to meet your eye level or above, be prepared to pay in the neighborhood of $100 before you can lash the tree to your roof and drive it home. 

So if they look the same, cost less, can be used year after year, and can prevent living trees from being chopped down… should we all be lining up to purchase an artificial tree this year? Well, maybe not.

While chopping down a living tree may see like the most un-environment friendly thing you can do, in this situation it actually appears to be the “greener” choice. Because it’s not so much about how many uses you can get from your tree… as it is about what the tree is made of, and what it does to the environment when it is created and when you dispose of it.

Artificial Tree
Artificial trees are manufactured using PVC, which is a plastic. The raw material for fake Christmas trees is both non-renewable and polluting.  Additionally, in order to make the PVC needles on artificial trees the manufacturers use lead and other additives that have been linked to liver, kidney, neurological, and reproductive system damage in lab studies on animals. 

Some artificial trees actually come with warning labels due to their lead content. And not that we’ve recently had any problems with excess lead content in items imported from China (ahem), but approximately 85% of the artificial trees imported by the United States come from China.

What is your choice?  Real or Artificial?

10 pretty purplexing comments:

  1. Real is my answer!!I think they are best trees out there!!!Though, it is hard trying to keep my cat from getting into it!!!! Real trees also smell good!!!
    So what kind of tree did you go with???

  2. I have a fake one....mostly due to allergies! It looks real and the mess is non existence and the cost well thats my opinion.

  3. I wrote about WHAT kind of tree we buy last year in my blog, around this time. For years, we only bought Live Pine Trees. The kind you plant afterwards and watch growup, as your children do. LOL Then when we moved, only cut trees were available. Though we couldn't plant them, we still would put them in the yard for the birds. At some point we were discouraged with all the pine needles they dropped and bought an artificial tree. We LOVED it. Our most recent one looks like a twig tree, straight from the forest. It stays up year round. There are no warnings on the box, so I'm sticking with it. And my little silver tree. Take care.

  4. Well I must admit I am a fake tree girl all the way. I have the same one that actually goes to my downstairs family room when Christmas season is over. Mr. O LOVES this tree and he whines and complains when I put it downstairs. Whatever.

    I also have a few of those old fashioned ceramic trees with the lights in them. They are my all time favorite. Back in the 60's it was the rage to take a ceramics class - my mom, aunt and grandmother became ceramic tree nut jobs, they made so many. I have one of them in ANC.

  5. Ich liebe nur die echten Bäume.
    Wir gehen immer am 4.Sonntag vor Weihnachten zum Weihnachtsbaumverkauf.
    Dort gibt es viel Glühwein und leckere Bratwurst und für die Kinder
    heiße Schockolade.
    MHHHHHHHH, ich freue mich darauf.

    Eine schöne Woche

  6. Todd insists we get a real tree. I have to admit, I love the smell. But the mess!!! UGH! And trying to remember to water the tree!!! JEEZ! I do, however, enjoy the trip of going to get the tree. It's a fabulous memory the boys will have.

  7. We always had real trees until we moved overseas...we made the switch because we travel so much and for reasons of safety (fire) we went with artificial. I don't miss it as much as I thought I would. We put ours up the weekend after Thanksgiving when my girls are home...we couldn't do this with a real tree.

  8. Gee I have one more thing to add to my list of things I already have to worry about ;)

    I had no idea that the first artificial trees were made by a toilet brush company! Too funny!

    We just have too many allergies in our family to consider a real tree. So, artificial it is!

  9. I have to go with real. I enjoy finding just the right tree each year and ohhh that pine smell. And the fake trees do look too fake for me yet. It would be nice to not pay for one every year though!


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