Choosing the correct Christmas tree

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Posted on Thursday, December 7, 2017


When choosing a tree this holiday season one must look into the advantages and disadvantages to both the ‘real’ versus ‘fake’ Christmas tree. There are pros and cons for each that can be considered to assist your family in making the best decision.

One advantage to purchasing an artificial tree is the one-time cost. Once the tree has been purchased, there are no residual costs and the tree can be reused each year. Artificial trees are extremely convenient as they can be easily stored and set up each year. They also don’t require watering and won’t scatter needles all over the floor.

Although convenient, there are many disadvantages to owning an artificial tree. Artificial trees are typically made from PVC plastic, which is a petroleum-based, non-biodegradable plastic. Due to its non-biodegradable nature, once your tree is taken to a landfill, it will likely be there for a very long time. Artificial trees are constructed by gluing the plastic fibers to a metal frame making it very difficult for them to be recycled. Some older artificial trees may contain lead, which is a toxic substance.

The carbon footprint of an artificial tree also needs to be taken into consideration as the majority of them are imported from China. Artificial trees are also a fire hazard.

There are many advantages to purchasing a real tree this holiday season. Most trees purchased are grown by Canadian farmers that help employ many workers. According to Statistics Canada, 78.4 million dollars’ worth of real Christmas trees were sold in 2015. Christmas tree farms are spread across Canada with over 2,381 according to the 2011 Census of Agriculture. Most trees are grown and sold in the same area, so the carbon footprint from shipping is much less than artificial trees.

While the farms are growing the trees, they are actually reducing carbon dioxide with the trees absorbing it during their lifespan. Christmas tree farms provide habitat for local wildlife.

Going out to find a real tree can also be a fun-filled family adventure. Once it has been brought home and decorated, there is nothing quite like the fresh scent of a tree, something that an artificial tree is incapable of providing.

Once the festive season is finished, most communities offer a tree recycling program. The trees are typically taken to a site and turned into mulch or compost. With real trees, you may have the option of purchasing one in a pot that can be later planted.

The biggest disadvantage to purchasing a real tree is the monetary cost as it becomes an annual expense for your family. Also, real trees are higher maintenance and must be watered continuously. They will drop needles in your house that will have to be cleaned up.

From an environmental prospective, real trees are the better option. Hopefully, these factors can help you decide on which type of Christmas tree is the right fit for your family.