The Question of Christmas Trees: Real vs Fake

It’s beginning to look alot like Christmas…

Did you see the snow this morning? Hoo boy, Christmas is coming! And I’m of the mind to start decorating the inside of the house too. You know there will be pine cones, cedar rope and evergreen boughs scattered around the house, but the Pièce de résistance is of course the Christmas Tree! Now you have to know we’ll have a real tree, but can I offer you some of the pros and cons of whether you should have a real tree or an artificial one?


Artificial Trees

Since CLC is a little biased, I am going to give you the low-down on the cons of artificial trees first. I realize there are a few perks too, like the fact that you can re-use your artificial tree over and over again, but just hear me out for a minute! You see, even though you pull out your Christmas tree year after year and claim to be environmentally friendly in doing so, did you know that most artificial trees are made out of polyvinyl chloride, otherwise known as PVC? And I hate to tell you, but PVC is far from a renewable product. It is a petroleum-based vinyl, which has a bag-load full of negative by-products produced in the creation of it, many of them known carcinogens. Sadly, dioxin, ethylene dichloride and vinyl chloride are all on that list. As well, many of the artificial trees which we find on the market in North America are made overseas, where health and safety standards are not necessarily as high as here. That means that the safety of the workers who handle those toxic chemicals is not necessarily as stringent as here. Just a thought!

To add to artificial trees less than stellar reputation, did you know that another one of the ingredients thrown in during the making of fake trees is lead? Yup, it helps to make your PVC branches easier to manipulate. Lead is linked to liver, kidney, neurological, and reproductive system damage in lab studies on animals. That doesn’t sound good, does it? I guess you just have to make sure to wash your hands well after pulling your fake tree out of the box, putting it together, then decorating it. And watch out for any dust your tree might shed, as it is laced with lead too. Er, not good for the dog, cat or your baby who has just learned how to crawl. And I wouldn’t suggest letting your little ones help to decorate the tree, as you wouldn’t want them to inhale or ingest those lead particles after a little family fun, would you?

Real Trees

I know that there are those that protest cutting down trees just to satisfy our sentimental side though. I understand where you are coming from, but most Christmas trees come from farms where they are specially grown for just that reason. Typically they are eight years old, or so, when they get cut down, which equates to eight years worth of carbon extracted from the air by those trees. Now they often do require pesticides during their life cycle. Plus, if you are buying pre-cut trees, you have to count in the transportation factor to the negatives. But you just can’t beat the smell of a real tree, can you? I love it!

Pros and Cons

Other factors that you can dither on for real trees are;

  • real trees require watering
  • real trees drop needles
  • you have to go out to find & select an appropriate tree
  • if not maintained properly, real trees can be a fire hazard
  • you have to dispose of real trees,

BUT they can be recycled into mulch, are generally replanted at a rate of 1-3 trees planted per tree cut, and are often planted in areas that are otherwise undesirable, such as slopes or under hydro wires.

vs fake trees;

  • fake trees have no scent
  • fake trees can look fake
  • fake trees require storage for the rest of the year
  • fake trees do not compost or break down and if incinerated emit carcinogens
  • as fake trees are generally made overseas, our economy doesn’t see the financial benefit

Although I have to give you that I have seen many a fake tree go up the first of December or earlier and enjoyed the month through. Artificial trees don’t rot, so over the long-term you save money, as you don’t have to buy a real tree every year. And there are some of you poor folk who are allergic to trees as well, so a real tree may just not be worth the tissues you will go through.

Well, debate all you want, but I know what is going to be decorated at my house. And with 24 days to go til Christmas, I will be heading out to pick up my real tree soon! Never mind me though, what do you have at your house? Leave me a comment to let me know!


Jim McFadden Realtor

I didn’t realize that artificial trees were that bad. Nothing beats the smell of a fresh tree anyway, but I just might be telling the in-laws the low-down about their fake tree over turkey this year!!


You’d have to check the very fine print on the box to see “if” there was any kind of warning label. Not something that the manufacturers really want to promote I would bet. Think green. Go FRESH!


Thanks for visiting my blog and I have to confess we have an artificial tree. We love the real thing, but one of our cats thinks real trees are brought in for her to climb and explore. Smart little thing, she stays away from the artificial – now I know why!


There are plenty of people that have artificial trees, so you have lots of company. I just thought it might be interesting to share a few tidbits of the ins and outs of Christmas trees though. Just wash your hands after putting up the tree & I’m sure you will be fine! Thanks for visiting.


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Published by
November 30, 2011 4:26 pm