So many of my friends have switched over to artificial trees due to convenience, cost, and some even say safety, but just can't cross over. One of my absolute favorite traditions during the holiday season is to pick out our Christmas tree! Going to a local tree farm and walking through the trees. The Princess likes to pretend we are in a forest. It really is an adventure and I can't imagine giving it up.
Why it's better to keep it real:
Many people are under the impression that buying an artificial tree is the more environment friendly way to go. It may seem that chopping down a tree every year would have a more negative effect on the environment, but it is actually the greener option. For each tree that is chopped down, 1-3 seedlings replace it. While real trees are completely natural and can be recycled (93% are recycled each year), artificial trees are manufactured with PVC and are not biodegradable and can't be recycled. So, even though you get more use from an artificial tree, eventually you will have to dispose of it to upgrade. If you dispose of your artificial tree in a landfill it will never breakdown but will remain in the landfill permanently. If disposed of by incineration, the PVC in artificial trees will emit into the atmosphere dioxins and other carcinogens into the air. Disposing of an artificial tree can have a far more negative impact on the environment than recycling or disposing of a real one.
Some artificial trees contain lead
The Children’s Health Environmental Coalition warns artificial trees "may shed lead-laced dust, which may cover branches or shower gifts and the floor below the tree." Some manufacturers use lead and other additives that have been linked to liver, kidney, neurological, and reproductive system damage in lab studies on animals. Okay folk, that's enough for me! I would say that if you are going to buy an artificial tree you should check to see if it is made with lead.
Support local farms
Buying locally not only supports family farms, but it also strengthens regional economy, and can help foster a sense of community. I always try to shop local when I can, and buying a Christmas tree from a local farm is a great way to keep it local. On the other hand 85% of artificial trees used in the US are manufactured in China. Where would you prefer your tree come from?
Fun family tradition
Picking out your Christmas tree can be a fun activity for the whole family. If you have local tree farms, the kids will have a blast looking at all of the different sized trees and picking out the perfect tree. Where I live there are many places to go with options to cut the tree yourself or to have them cut it. Even if you don't have tree farms close by, it is always a treat for the kids to help pick the tree.
Reasons people go artificial
Buying an artificial tree is more cost effective in the long run. You purchase one tree that you can use for many years vs paying for one each year.
I would personally prefer to pay more in the long run because I love the tradition, but I can see how this would be a decision maker for some.
For some it may be a chore to go to pick up the Christmas tree. Haul it in the truck or on top of the car. Plus, the mess is a pain. Pine needles everywhere. Having to vacuum constantly, ick!
Obviously, you already know that I am not one of the people who think of the picking of the tree as a chore. Also, I don't mind the increase in vacuuming because it comes with that wonderful fresh pine scent.
A while back and video circulated and got everyone in a panic. The video was of a dried out Christmas tree going up in flames. It's a pretty terrifying thought, but it's very uncommon.
Approximately 33 million real Christmas trees are purchased every year in the US. Out of those 33 million, fewer than .001% are involved in a residential fire. Also, a fake tree is just as likely to be involved in a residential fire. Either way, there are precautions that you can take to prevent this from happening.
Fire safety tipsAccording to the California Christmas Tree Association (CCTA), these simple steps can help guard against the rare, but serious, event of a holiday fire.
* Select the freshest-looking Real Tree available. Make a fresh cut across the tree's base and immediately place in water. Keep the tree's water container full at all times, checking the water level daily.
* Be extra careful with electricity, all open flames and other heat sources during the holidays.
* Check all Christmas tree lights, other electric decorations and electrical appliances with worn electrical cords. Use only UL approved electrical decorations and extension cords.
* Place the Christmas tree well away from heat registers, space heaters, fire places and wood stoves.
* Place the Christmas tree well clear of doors--keep the emergency escape route clear of trees, packages and furniture.
* Unplug tree lights and other decorations when out of the room or sleeping.
I can't see myself ever switching to an artificial Christmas tree, but everyone is different so it's great that the option is there. What do you prefer, real or artificial? Do you have a family tradition for picking your tree? I'd love to hear about it in a comment.