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Fake or Fir:A Christmas Dilemma

Every year families are confronted with the dilemma of whether to buy a live Christmas tree, or to invest in an artificial one. For some, the annual quest for “Thee Perfect Tree” is tradition, an important ritual to usher in the season, and to disregard this ceremony would be tantamount to boycotting Santa Claus. Others appreciate the convenience of a well-formed (albeit man-made) tree waiting in storage for them year to year. While it ultimately comes down to personal taste, there are some definite pros and cons one might want to consider before weighing in on the matter.

First, there is the question of cost. When they first came on the scene, artificial trees commanded staggering costs in comparison to live trees. However, consumers saw the price as an investment, since they would not be buying a tree again for several years. In that way, an artificial tree probably comes up less expensive in the end. Nowadays the cost of an artificial tree can vary from about the same you’d pay in a live tree lot, to several hundred dollars. Materials and size also account for the asking price.

The same can be said for live trees. Depending on whether you choose to cut down your own tree or buy a live, ball and burlapped, or otherwise containerized tree that can be planted after the holidays, you may pay anywhere from a few bucks to a few hundred. The disadvantage here is that you must still buy a new tree year after year—unless, of course you choose to decorate an outdoor tree. Tree species and size will also make a difference to your pocketbook.

The next subject up for debate is which choice is the most environmentally sound. Again, it all depends on the way you look at it. While artificial trees are reusable for several years, they are ultimately a petroleum-based product, the manufacturing of which takes its toll on the environment. Once an artificial tree is discarded there is little if any use for it, and most find their ways into landfills.

Live trees benefit the environment from beginning to end. Most are raised on farms, where they are tended for five to sixteen years before they are harvested. During these years they absorb carbon dioxide and other gases from the air and supply oxygen. Every acre of trees planted meets the oxygen needs of eighteen people! Christmas tree farms usually occupy stretches of land that won’t support other crops, and they provide scenic byways. Furthermore, these trees stabilize soil, protect water supplies, and provide refuge for wildlife. For every tree harvested, one to three saplings are planted. After the holidays are over live trees continue to benefit the environment when they are recycled into mulch or compost. Some creative individuals have also gathered Christmas trees and used them in various other ways benefiting their communities (see http://www.christmastree.org).

A third point up for consideration is the aesthetic. There can be no argument, artificial trees are manufactured to be balanced and beautiful—there is no need for trimming, nor for worrying about the tree dying before the big day arrives. Neither will you need to vacuum up fallen needles every other day, or change the water. Your hands won't get sappy from touching the branches either. There are a variety of sizes and styles, modeled after a variety of tree species to suit every taste. There are even trees equipped with lights, so that cords are not seen snaking through the branches!

In contrast, a live tree takes more work to look beautiful, but there is nothing that compares to the natural thick pine scent it gives your home! One whiff, and you feel good enough to bring out that vacuum for the twelfth time that day…

A final word concerns safety and storage issues. Bringing a live tree into your home and outfitting it with electric lights can be a real safety hazard, especially if the tree is allowed to dry up. Artificial trees are generally made from flame-resistant materials that require little care. What they do require is a storage space to spend the bulk of the year. If you have a decent-sized basement, this may be no problem. Many people actually store their trees fully decorated to save time! But if you live in a tight space without storage, you may have no choice but to opt for the more “disposable” option of a real tree.

As you can see, when it comes to fake or fir, the choice is personal. Hopefully we’ve given you some things to think about to help you decide the best solution for this annual dilemma.

About the Author:
Emma Snow is a creator at for Ornament Shop http://www.ornament-shop.net and Craft Kits http://www.craft-kits.net leading portals for crafts and ornaments.


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