For the first twenty something years of my life, real Christmas trees were the only option I ever knew. And frankly, artificial trees were so depressingly plastic-looking back then, I’m glad it was never an issue in my house.
Then something happened.
As a thirty-something, we bought a house that had a very tall ceiling and screamed for a tree that was nearly as tall. But after one year of spending nearly $200 on a 12-foot real tree, I knew something had to give.
It didn’t take a math wizard to understand how quickly one can go broke paying for $200 trees each year when today’s fake trees look so realistic. Besides, now they come pre-lit, assemble in three easy pieces and store in a sturdy cardboard box. And just think of all the trees I’d save over the years. We did our shopping, found an artificial tree we liked and made the investment.
I felt pretty good about knowing I’d never have to buy another ‘throw-away’ tree again and I’d be doing something good for the environment too.
Wrong! Every eco-friendly thing I thought I was doing in defense of buying an artificial tree went out the window. Here are a few of the reasons why as noted in a recent conversation I had with Rick Dungey, Public Relations Manager for the National Christmas Tree Association:
Artificial trees never biodegrade
One of the most common reasons for buying an artificial tree is their longevity. Although artificial trees can last for years, eventually they are discarded where they remain in a landfill forever more. Fake trees are non-biodegradable so they never break down.
Artificial trees include potentially harmful material
Part of what makes artificial trees so sturdy are the components used in their construction. PVC plastics are made from petroleum by products, heavy metals are used to stabilize the plastics and the metal branches are mined from the earth. In California, warning labels are even required on artificial trees to alert users of the potential risk of hazardous materials…including lead.
Artificial trees are imported thousands of miles
Buying local and supporting area businesses doesn’t apply to artificial trees. Most are made in China, shipped across the Pacific and then travel many more miles to reach their final destination.
They’re shipped in cardboard boxes
How many trees do they kill each year to make the boxes to ship the fake trees?
Now, having pretty much bashed the fake Christmas tree industry, I certainly recognize there are circumstances where artificial trees are more appropriate for certain users and I respect that. However, when the opportunity presents itself for those that do have an option, think twice before opting for artificial Christmas trees as the greener option, because they’re not. Your thoughts?