Friday, November 27, 2009

Which is Better: Real vs. Fake Trees

Thanksgiving has passed and, if you celebrate Christmas, it is on to the decorating. Which do you favor - a real or fake tree?

I was a big believer in real trees until I finally gave up the romantic vision of our family trekking off to the woods to chop down our own. More often than not, it was me and two children standing in the rain in The Home Depot parking lot trying to figure out how to wrangle the tree home. My husband appreciates a lot about the holiday season, but buying and decorating a tree are not on that list.

Putting the tree in the stand was another issue all by itself - one that was complicated many years by a persistent pug who liked to knock the tree down. If you think getting the tree straight once a year is bad, try doing it several times! Of course, if you ask our children, they'll tell you the biggest reason we switched was because our male dog kept confusing the Christmas tree with some of his favorite outdoor trees. So, for a variety of reasons, we are now an artificial tree family.

Better for the environment? I thought so at the time, but it turns out that's not necessarily true. The book Celebrate Green covers this subject and points out that fake trees take a lot of energy, chemicals, and petroleum to make, package, and ship. The box that ours came in says Made in China, so it is definitely no exception.

A live tree supports your local farmers, and helps the Earth while it is growing (by making oxygen and absorbing carbon dioxide). While it may be better to leave it growing, keep in mind these trees were usually grown with the intention of being cut down after several years. Still feel bad? You can always buy a potted tree and then plant it in your yard when you're done with it.

Since I already have an artificial tree, I'm going to keep reusing it, but the real trees do seem to be the better choice. Celebrate Green mentions that most trees are discarded after four years, but we're planning to keep ours as long as we can.


  1. Every year, we go to the Tree Farm and wander through looking for that perfect family tree. It is no easy task with two adults and two children who have to agree on which tree to chop. Sometimes we need to go to more than one farm, but each Christmas Tree Farm has it's own atmosphere and goodie (hot chocolate, candy canes, heat).

    As a family, this is one of our best traditions and adventures. We put on the boots, coats, hats, and gloves to make the trek. The past few years, we've been lucky to have snow too. That gives the trees the holiday look. Who can't smile looking at the beauty. We can't forget the camera either, as there is always more than one Kodak moment.

    My family had a Christmas Tree Farm in our backyard. I loved seeing the families come and choose "their tree." We also have family in Oregon with a farm. I guess it's in the blood.

  2. Wow! I didn't know Christmas tree farms were in your blood. Maybe next year we'll have to tag along with you and see if it can't be contagious. Have you made the adventure yet this year?