Real VS Fake Tree: The Seasonal Showdown

A discussion of the pros and cons of real vs fake Christmas trees.

  It’s that time of year again: Christmas. Time to string up the lights, light the fireplace, hang the wreaths, and, most importantly, set up the tree. With this cardinal part of seasonal decor comes a yearly debate, whether to go with a real or a fake Christmas tree.

     This question is not as shallow as sacrificing tradition for convenience, this decision goes as deep as weighing the financial and environmental impacts of both. After looking at the debate from a financial, environmental, and performance standpoint, I have come to the conclusion that getting a real Christmas tree is the way to go.

     Financial view: Wanting to save money is a valid reason why someone might choose a fake tree. Faux Christmas trees cost on average a little over $100 and usually last from four to six years. Real trees, on the other hand, cost on average about $80 and only last for that year. Pricing obviously will differ with quality and size, so someone could probably make either option work on a tight budget.

     Environmental view: With the state of the earth at the moment, it is important to keep the impact of your choices in mind. Just the production of fake trees is exponentially more harmful than the whole process of producing, transporting, and discarding real trees. They are mass-produced in factories and are made of plastic and metal, which are not biodegradable. Also, extensive amounts of carbon emissions are produced from manufacturing and transportation and tons of waste is created from the packaging and discarded trees. This process is very harsh on the environment from start to finish, all for a cheap tree that only lasts about 4 years. 

     Real trees on the other hand are ethically and sustainably grown on local farms. This means very minimal transportation or packaging is required. Not only is it majorly cutting down on carbon emissions, real trees produce tons of fresh oxygen into the environment. It is beneficial for air quality and supports small, local farms. Also when it is time to discard them they are completely recyclable and can be used for paper or lumber. 

     Performance view: There is no debate that real Christmas trees will always take the win in this category.  There is nothing that gets someone in the Christmas mood like the fresh, pine smell of a genuine tree. There are a few fake ones that try to replicate it with chemical-smelling pheromones and perfumes but they never really do the trick. Nothing can compare to the real deal. Not only the smell but the look of them too. No matter how advanced a faux tree one gets, you can always tell the difference between them. Plastic and metal can never truly replace fresh pine and wood.

     Still, the question remains, which Christmas tree is best? Even though real trees seem to be the clear answer, it isn’t for everyone. Every family and house is different, so what is the right option for one house may not be the right one for others. Everyone’s situation has different circumstances, with different solutions and that’s ok. This being said, I do recommend getting a real tree this holiday season if possible. But at the end of the day, Christmas is never defined by what type of tree you have, but by the people who gather around it.

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