This morning I took out my trash and noticed several Christmas trees on the side of the road next to the neighbor’s trash cans. There weren’t a lot of them, which leads me to believe that either most people use fake trees nowadays, or some people are waiting until next week to throw them out.
My wife and I have a fake tree, as do both of our parents and most of our family. But this made me wonder; which is better, a real or fake Christmas tree? Obviously there are a few pros and cons to each.
- Fake trees – Fake trees can cost anywhere from $50-100, but often you can find great post holiday savings at department stores or even on-line stores such as this prelit tree from Amazon.
- Real trees - The price of real trees is a very wide range -usually anywhere from $25-75. Several factors in tree prices include your location and how close to Christmas you buy. When I was a kid, my family lived in the country and we often found and cut down our own tree. The only cost was a weekend outing with my father and brothers and a little labor. But if you live in a suburban area or city, this option is usually not available.
- Fake trees – With care, most fake trees can last around 10 years or more, which is much better than throwing away a tree every year. However, many fake trees are not recyclable, which is a problem. At least real trees will eventually degrade into nothing. Plastic and metal are not biodegradable.
- Real trees – It seems a waste to me to cut down a tree only to keep it in your house for 2 or 3 weeks and then throwing it away after the holidays. However, if a tree is grown in a sustainable forest or is replaced with a new seedling when it is cut down, it is not a total loss. The big issue though, is when there is no place to recycle the trees or chop them into mulch and they end up in landfills.
The Emotional Factor
- Fake trees – It’s always exciting bringing out the Christmas tree and decorations to herald in the start of the holiday season. My wife and I put up our tree the weekend after Thanksgiving. We will take it down the weekend after the New Year, unless we want to keep the holiday spirit longer. Fake trees allow you to celebrate the holiday at your own pace, not by nature’s pace. Dead trees are not very romantic!
- Real trees – I have fond memories of hiking into the woods with my father and brothers, finding the perfect tree, chopping it down, and dragging it back home. We lived adjacent to a large forest at the time, and it was the perfect place to do this. For others, going to the Christmas tree lot and selecting a real tree together as a family is a time honored tradition. And you can’t forget about the smell of pine needles; a real tree just smells like Christmas!
- Fake trees – Fake trees can put up and taken down at your convenience, not based on other factors such as buying and transporting a tree, the weather, or trash day. You also you don’t have to worry about fake trees dying. My wife deployed to the Middle East when she was in the military and missed Christmas. She returned home in the middle of January, and we had Christmas under our tree. There is no way I would have been able to find a real tree in January, and had I bought one when they were still available, it would have died by the time she returned. The other convenience is that some fake trees come with built in lights. This makes it much easier and cheaper to decorate your tree.
- Real trees – There is a delicate balance when deciding when to buy a real tree. If you put it up the weekend after Thanksgiving, it may not last until Christmas. Wait too long and you get a scrawny, ugly tree. No matter when you buy your tree, loose pine needles usually end up everywhere! It can also be a pain to find the time to select a tree, then transport it if you do not have the right kind of vehicle for the job.
Which type of Christmas tree do you prefer? There is no right or wrong answer to this question, and I think there are a hundred other influencing factors I neglected to mention. My wife and I have a fake tree mostly for the convenience factors that I mentioned above. But your favorite type of Christmas tree is a personal decision. Feel free to leave a comment and share which type of tree you prefer and why.
Update: I just found a Mt. Dew Can Christmas tree, which is the ultimate in recycling (article courtesy of Mr. Will Chen, Wise Bread).
Photo Credit – barrym67.