Thursday, December 1, 2011

Christmas trees: real or fake?

Which is better, environmentally-speaking: a real or a fake Christmas tree?  
There are a lot of factors to consider, from their carbon footprints to their ultimate disposals.  Happily, there are always scientists willing to focus on every little angle.  And Ellipsos, a consulting firm in Montreal, has determined that the environment is better off if we choose real trees over fake. Some of their points:
  • Real trees produce oxygen and take in carbon dioxide
  • Fake trees often contain polyvinyl chloride, which produces carcinogens during manufacturing and disposal
  • Christmas tree farms provide green space near urban centers
  • Real trees create habitat for animals
However, sticklers in this debate might point out that Ellipsos only considered trees bought in Montreal and either grown in Quebec or manufactured in China, so the controversy--like It’s A Wonderful Life--will probably remain a seasonal favorite. 
 If you celebrate Christmas, do you prefer a real or a fake tree?


  1. Real - by all means!  The search for the wiley Christmas tree is an annual day-after Thanksgiving tradition for me.  (Christmas trees are raised on farms rather than ranches because it would be so difficult to move the stock to summer pasture.)  It's more than just the object of decoration.  It's the project in getting it, the smell in the car, the cold ears and warm heart of my beloved as he indulges my whims in the woods.  It's the way the cats sit back flemening the wild new fragrances a real tree brings into the house.

    Christmas tree farms are a great way for people to retain the agricultural tax basis for their land, and still hold down a full-time job.  Christmas-tree farms provide Pre-Christmas employment to young people who would go batshit if they had to spend the daylight hours manning the cash-register at Target or stocking the shelves at K-Mart.   And Christmas trees are a renewable resource, which is more than you can say for green plastic.  Oh, and real trees are recyclable, too.

  2. I use a plastic tree (plus the old hanging baubles) that's been in my family since I was a kid - I persuaded my parents to donate it to me when they stopped putting it up. Can't see the point in buying a new one when something existing will do, and also saves on resources. It's not fancy, but has many memories. I'm not religious, but to me it symbolises the turn of the year, in Australia from the longest daylight hours to (eventually) longer night ones.

  3. I prefer real trees, but I have yet to find one that will last as long as I like to keep them up, so I use a fake one.

  4. Roxie's real trees can't be beat for the experience, fragrance, nostalgia, and all the environmental reasons she lists. Here are some other environmental choices:
    I've sometimes lucked into last-minute castoffs from lots or trees recycled from businesses that put them out before vacation days. Live trees are a good choice if you start fairly small and use them for more than one year and have a planned and APPROPRIATE place to plant them out. This year we have a little western red cedar born of the big daddy in the backyard. No way, though, will it ever get planted in our average-sized yard. (Did I mention "big"? ) Tree-pruned rosemary works, too, though it's not good for hanging ornaments, and you have to plant it out quite soon. My potted ones have tended to die if kept in an inside pot.  
    You can also try small and recycled. We have two small "forever" artificial trees, but they're from Goodwill; read "reused." One is a hand-crafted little job, more beautiful than the standard manufactured ones to my eye and small enough for our space in the bay window. Poking around, I see it's hand-crafted over a styrofoam cone, artistically covered with dense curls of sparkly gold-sprayed telephone cord, the flat kind; the materials aren't environmental except that they are  reused--the cord twice--and it lasts. Another sparkly gold one is manufactured from thin metal that reflects colors; it's lovely and sized for the same window. Those trees don't take up the whole garage, either.   
    A side note. English holly is a Christmas tradition, too, but it's a nuisance tree here. I have one that is coming down, and the branches can disappear one by one for people's decor: another use before they hit the yard waste container.  
    Have a happy and responsible holiday!

  5. I have always used real trees for many years, but this year I picked up a fake 4.5 ft. tree at Goodwill for a few reasons:
    1. Reuse and recycle so it will not feed a dump site
    2. Cheaper cost
    3. Not a fire hazard
    4. Does not shed needles which end up in EVERYTHING in my house (Ouch! how did that get in my bed?)
    5. I do not have to hand pick tree needles out of the carpet (cannot vacuum as they clog lines in the walls on the build-in vac system)
    6. Cats will not climb fake tree and try to use to sharpen claws and dogs will not use it to pee