This is a post by my husband, Aaron. – Anna
A Christmas tree is the centerpiece of your entire christmas celebration. Hours are spent decorating it and staring at it afterwards. It’s what people congregate around, it’s where the presents go. It’s no debate that a Christmas tree is an integral part of the holiday season, but what is debatable is the decision to go real or fake with the Christmas tree.
Here are a few things to consider when making your choice of Real Vs. Fake this yule tide season...
When it comes to the cost of real vs fake, it’s basically a wash out. Both choices have such diverse cost ranges it’s easy to find either within your budget. Real trees have high cost associated with the initial set up. You have to buy the skirt, the tree stand, lights and ornaments. Fake trees usually come with pre-strung lights and tree stands and depending on what type of tree you get, you may not even need ornaments. An argument can be made that an artificial tree will last longer, but depending on the cost, it still could be a wash. Most quality fake trees start around $200 and have a life span of 5-7 years, which sounds appealing but if you budget shop you can find real trees for around 30 bucks. If you do the math, you are spending roughly the same amount on real trees as you are for the life span of the fake tree.
Real trees are more environmentally friendly than their artificial counterparts. Yes, that sounds weird since you are chopping down a tree, but real trees are biodegradable and renewable and can be turned into mulch when their job is done. Fresh trees are grown on farms (usually on land unsuitable for other crops) and throughout their life span are helping to remove carbon dioxide from the air. Locally grown and harvested trees reduce the environmental footprint even more. On the flip side fresh trees do need an astonishing amount of water throughout the season and unless they are grown organically, fresh trees require pesticides to remain healthy. It takes roughly 6-7 years for a tree to reach a harvestable age. That’s 6-7 years of pesticides getting put into the environment. Artificial trees on the other hand are usually manufactured overseas with petroleum-based products, shipped all over the world and cannot be recycled. While artificial trees do last longer, of course, they ultimately end up in the landfill. The most environmentally friendly choice is the “living tree”, which can be planted in the ground after the holiday season.
The “Hassle Factor”
Real trees require a certain amount of upkeep: watering, pruning, constantly picking up dead needles, not to mention keeping pets from drinking all the water. You also have to transport it from the tree lot and take it to the curb or to the recycling center after the season. Fake trees require none on this, but on the flip side, they must be set up each year, dusted off and fluffed up. At the end of the season fake trees have to be broken down and stored from year to year and in spatially challenged homes and apartments, this could be a real problem.
The Safety Consideration
Real trees can pose a safety risk, especially towards the end of the season when trees dry out and are placed too close to home heating source. I actually fell victim to this when a neighbor’s tree caught fire (in an adjoining apartment). It didn’t burn down the entire building, but unfortunately my apartment was consumed in the blaze. That’s not to say artificial trees can’t catch fire but most are “fire resistant” which lessen the chances.
One of the best things you can do this holiday season is to buy a locally grown and harvested tree. Not only will it help to reduce the carbon footprint of the tree, but you are helping to support your local economy. Nationally in the US, there are about 15,000 Christmas tree growers and over 100,000 people employed full, part-time and seasonally in the industry. Most artificial trees are manufactured overseas and sold in big box retailers. With the economy still struggling and the United States losing jobs to overseas competitors a fresh pine purchased right in your home state helps to sustain jobs and your local economy. In this case, a freshy is the best choice you can make.
All the above aside, perhaps the real choice to make is which type of tree will bring the most enjoyment and happiness. I’m partial to fresh trees. Growing up we always had The Real Deal. I like the smell of pine and the look of a real tree and heading out on a cold winter day to find the perfect specimen to set up in the house. Some people like the convenience and simplicity of an artificial tree and that’s okay too because in the end (other than the environmental impacts) it’s basically a wash when it comes to Real versus Fake.
Reader Sumer had this Christmas tree tip to add:
“Every year on December 26th, I want the Christmas feeling to continue… but while I love the twinkling lights and decorations after a whole month of looking at the same thing I’m kind of ready to get rid of it too. A few days ago I was thinking about that, and all the sudden the idea of turning a Christmas tree in a New Year tree came to mind. Turns out, other countries put out trees specifically to celebrate the New Year (after some research I found that they pointed out that it wasn’t a redecorated Christmas tree but a tree specifically dedicated to the New Year).
So here’s my idea (which is great for couples and families): take off all of the Christmas decor except for the lights. Then, add new, sparkly New Year decor to your tree to give your Christmas tree a new look. You can add whatever you like and you don’t have to buy anything new to decorate. For my New Year tree I’m going to start the tradition of writing out scriptures, wishes, encouragements and even New Year Resolutions and pinning them to the tree. This has the added benefit of making my New Year’s Resolutions feel like more of a commitment.”
What’s your opinion? Real or fake and is cost something you consider when you make your decision?