Monday, December 10, 2012

Fake Tree VS. Real Tree

During this holiday season you can easily spot a Christmas tree decorated and lit just about anywhere. As Christmas trees are purchased, many people face the question of real versus fake.

Some people prefer the tradition behind going out and choosing a natural Christmas tree every year and bringing it home with the family. With it comes the wonderful pine tree scent and the aesthetic of the real tree. Others however, prefer the convenience of a fake Christmas tree. Since it is reusable, there is no need to search for the perfect tree over and over again. In addition many fake trees come pre-lit.

However, in addition to convenience, aesthetics, and tradition, one should also consider which tree is more environmentally friendly,and healthier for the family members.

Following is the most comprehensive summary of the pros and cons of both options as outlined in an article by Prevention News.

(Link to the full article -> )

(Real) Fresh Christmas Trees

Pros: Few Christmas trees come from forests anymore. Virtually all of them are grown on plantations, and those plantations are located in all 50 states, making fresh Christmas trees easy to find locally. Buying real trees helps support small local farmers, and at the end of the holiday season, the trees can be mulched up and used to feed plants or find some other environmentally friendly purpose.

Cons: 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.

Fake Christmas Trees

Pros: They're cheap, reusable, and may even come conveniently pre-decorated.

Cons: All that budget decorating comes at a cost to the environment. Fake trees are made from the plastic polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and the toxic chemical dioxin is released during PVC production. (By the way, in the event of a fire, the tree will burn and emit dioxin.) PVC contains hormone-disrupting plastic softeners called phthalates. And many fake trees have been found to be contaminated with lead. In fact, many of them come with a warning label advising you to wash your hands after handling them to prevent ingestion of the brain-damaging metal. Also, the plastic tree can't be recycled, should you decide to ditch it for a newer model. So it's going to and wind up in a landfill and stay there forever, barring some intervention from St. Nick.

The “Comparative Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of Artificial VS Natural Christmas Tree” is the most thorough study completed comparing the two types of trees. It was performed in 2009 by “Ellipsos” research firm of Canada. One of the primary conclusion reached is that “ Clients who prefer using the artificial tree can reduce their impacts on all categories by increasing the life span of their tree, ideally over 20 years. (

Rarely are fake trees kept for that long. In addition, with children around the house, it is important to consider the potential negative effects to one’s health if the tree is touched often.

There may not be one clear answer to this question. The better option depends on multiple factors. Following are some questions that you can ask yourself when choosing a tree. How long do I plan on keeping the tree? What environement will it be in? Inside of a home with children? At my office?
As a hostel, we have many guests circulating through our building. Thus, we must be careful not to trigger any allergies that our guests may have.We chose to purchase fake christmas trees which we have now been using for years and will hopefully be used for many more years to come, thereby minimizing the carbon footprint.

So what will it be? Real or fake? Let us know!




specialkor1 said...

I have owned a fake tree for 24 years, it has "grown" on me over the years(pun intended). Like most of the decorations that I drag out each year, it's the tradition and the nostalgia that make the spirits bright. I'll keep using my fake one.

Hostelling International Chicago said...

That is fantastic! 24 years - that makes it one very "green" Christmas tree! I believe that fake certainly has its benefits, as long as it's not thrown out every few years. Thank you very much for your input! It is wonderful to see what other people are doing and what they believe. I wish your tree many more wonderful years to come, it sure sounds like it is well appreciated. Happy Holidays!

Mike Andrews said...

Great to know Specialkor1 that you own a fake christmas tree for 24 years it means that you did not experience such problems that are to be said about them like they are toxic and not safe for environment and blah blah..
You gave support me sort of people who are also in favor to use fake trees.

Fake Trees