The Real VS Fake Christmas Tree debate replays itself year after year. If opting for a fresh Christmas tree over a fake one is a no-brainer in your mind, you’re at odds with a majority of the public: Approximately 60 percent of Americans set up fake trees for the holidays, according to a 2004 poll by ABC News and The Washington Post. But—popularity aside—which is the healthier, more eco friendly choice?
The Pros & Cons of Fresh Christmas Trees
Christmas trees are recycled into mulch and used in landscaping and gardening or chipped and used for playground material, hiking trails, paths and walkways. They can be used for beachfront erosion prevention, lake and river shoreline stabilization and fish and wildlife habitat.
Those real trees have real pest problems, and are usually grown with pesticides that are toxic to wildlife and, in some cases, to people. The most commonly used pesticide is Roundup, which is toxic to some birds and fish and was recently discovered to be toxic to human cells due to all the inert ingredients used. The Environmental Protection Agency has banned indoor use of some of the pesticides used on Christmas trees, such as chlorpyrifos and malathion, which damage human nervous systems.
The Pros and Cons of Fake Christmas Trees
Given the current economic climate, artificial trees may be especially appealing for their investment value when compared with the recurrent, annual expense of a real Christmas tree. Their convenience is also appealing to consumers as they don’t need watering, don’t leave pine needles all over the floor and transportation from tree farm to home isn’t an issue.
Today’s artificial trees are typically manufactured with metal and polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a non-biodegradable, petroleum-derived plastic. In addition, many older varieties may contain lead, used as a stabilizer in the manufacturing process. Despite their PVC contents, artificial trees are non-recyclable and non-biodegradable, meaning they will sit in a landfill for centuries after disposal.
An Even Better Option – Potted Christmas Trees
Go one step further than the real vs fake Christmas tree debate and consider a living, potted tree this Christmas. Though not feasible for everybody due to climate and land availability, living trees are brought into the home for about 10 days, then replanted after Christmas. If you don’t have the land for replanting, your local parks department will likely accept your tree for planting after the holidays.
Christmas season is upon us so it’s time to dig around in the attic, the garage, and the basement for all that stored tinsel, and start decorating your tree. Where do you stand in the Real VS Fake Christmas Tree Debate?