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
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.