At first glance, artificial Christmas trees seem to make more sense as a long-term solution when considering cost, ease of use and the reusability factor. Artificial trees actually have some eye appeal these days, as compared to the days when they were manufactured by a toilet brush company. Cutting down a living tree seems like a bad choice for the environment and it's also a yearly investment during the most draining time of the year.
So how is a family to make the right decision? Is it a no-win deal when every aspect has been taken into consideration? No, not really – because there is more to both sides of this story…
Artificial Trees: The Dark Side
- Most artificial trees are made from PVC plastic. Not only is PVC loaded with toxic chemicals like phthalates, its production also results in emission of dioxin and ethylene dichloride.
- Lead is often used as a stabilizer in PVC to make artificial trees more resistant to light and weathering. Lead has been linked to kidney, liver, neurological and reproductive system damage. Some Christmas trees are even required to carry warning labels because they shed lead-laden dust, exposing children to the toxic chemical.
- Other non-renewable metals and plastics are used to make artificial trees.
- Many artificial trees are treated with flame retardants, and yet they can still catch fire.
Real Trees: The Bright Side
- While pine trees contain resins and other aromatic chemicals that can damage the respiratory tract, causing chronic respiratory disease and asthma, fir and spruce trees do not contain the same irritating chemicals.
- They are a natural, renewable, reusable, recyclable source.
- Live evergreen trees absorb carbon dioxide and other gases while they are growing, and emit fresh oxygen. Approximately 1 million acres of holiday trees growing in the United States supply about 18 million people a day with oxygen.
- Organic, pesticide-free Christmas trees are becoming more widely available.
- You can support U.S. made products and farmers by purchasing live Christmas trees, because they are grown in all 50 States.
- You can also rent potted Christmas trees in some areas (the best of both worlds!)
As you can probably guess, my husband and I took the kids on our traditional trek to find the perfect live Christmas tree again this year. We found a beautiful blue-green fir and we're enjoying the fresh aroma constantly! It's also a wonderful opportunity to support a local business too 🙂
P.S. Interested in finding a non-toxic artificial Christmas tree? Be sure to check out our carefully research guide on how to choose a safer artificial Christmas tree.