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  • Writer's pictureKassi Kuppinger

Is It Better to Buy a Real or Fake Christmas Tree: The Pros and Cons of Artificial and Real Trees

Has anyone ever thought that chopping down a living tree doesn’t seem like an environmentally friendly thing to do? Whether for our Christmas needs or for making paper, all the negative talk about chopping down trees has made some people rethink their holiday decorations. HOWEVER, have you ever thought about fake trees and considered the effect that they have on the environment? To help you decide which type of tree you should buy this holiday season, we are going to discuss the pros and cons of buying real vs fake Christmas trees.

Pros of Artificial Christmas Trees

Artificial Trees are Less Expensive in the Long Run

One of the key benefits of choosing to use a fake Christmas tree is the fact that it eliminates the cost of having to buy a new tree year after year. While fake trees aren't necessarily cheap, they are a one-time expense that will end up costing you much less in the long run.

They are Less Hassle

Fake Christmas trees can be less of a hassle. While they do require being unpacked and assembled every year, they do not require the whole process of loading the family up in your vehicle, driving to the Christmas tree lot (or wherever you get your live trees from), loading the tree, driving it home, getting it into the house, and setting it up in the tree stand.

Artificial Trees Make Less of a Mess

Fake Christmas trees may lose a plastic pine needle here and there, but it is nothing in comparison to the pine needles that a real Christmas tree will lose. Depending on the tree, some live trees may even be a bit sappy, which can lead to a host of other sticky situations.

Cons of Fake Christmas Trees

Cons of Fake Christmas Trees

They Must Be Stored All Year Long

One of the less fun aspects of a fake Christmas tree is that it must be disassembled, packed back into whatever box or bag it came in, and then stored somewhere until the next holiday season. Depending on how big of a tree you choose and how much extra storage space you have, this could be a real inconvenience.

You Are Stuck with One Size

This may seem like a no-brainer, but while one convenience of a fake tree is that you have a tree you can use year after year, it also means that you are stuck with the same tree year after year. If you want a large tree, but then move or need to set up your tree in a smaller area, this becomes difficult. If you purchase a smaller tree for a smaller area and then decide you want a bigger tree to fill more space or look more grand, you are stuck with the decision of whether or not to buy another fake tree or purchase a real tree for the season.

Artificial Trees Do Not Decompose

As much as everyone would like to say that they buy one fake tree and keep it forever, this is simply not the reality of things. On average, the lifespan of a fake Christmas tree is around 6 years, which means that every six years, the household Christmas tree will need to be replaced and the old tree finds itself at the dump. If you think about the number of households in the United States that own fake Christmas trees and do some quick math, that is A LOT of fake Christmas trees that are thrown away each year. In fact, one website claims that around 10 million artificial Christmas trees are purchased every season. Another website also estimates that it takes over 500 years for an artificial Christmas tree to decompose. Now that's something to think about.

Cons of Real Christmas Trees

Cons of Real Christmas Trees

Real Trees are More Costly and a Recurring Expense

Real Christmas trees can cost as much as or more than an artificial Christmas tree, depending on the type and size of tree you choose to purchase. This expense can really add up from year to year.

They Can Be a Hassle to Transport

The effort it can take to get a live Christmas tree into your home can be exhausting. You must drive to a Christmas tree lot, select your tree, load the tree, drive the tree home, get the tree inside, and set up the tree stand, not to mention all the decorating and cleaning that follows. This can be a turn-off to some people, however, most tree lots will net and load your tree for you, and many businesses are even starting to offer delivery services, which takes much of the hassle out of the whole process.

Real Christmas Trees Cause More of a Mess

Real Christmas trees definitely cause more of a mess. Simply getting a live tree inside your front door can knock enough needles off the branches that its a wonder any needles are left on the tree! It is even more of a mess taking down the tree as it will have had a chance to dry out a bit and will likely lose more needles on the way out than the way in.

Disposing of Your Tree After the Holidays

This is always a bit of a hassle as well. Having to re-load the now crispy, scratchy tree and take it somewhere to dispose of it is never fun. Some trash services might offer to pick up your tree and dispose of it for an extra fee, but in most cases, is up to you to take your tree to a recycling center nearby.

Pros of Real Christmas Trees

Pros of Real Christmas Trees

Real Trees Have a Pleasant Aroma

One simple thing that many people enjoy about real Christmas trees is that they have a pleasant aroma. You bring them into your home and the whole place starts to smell like pine trees and Christmas!

They Do Not Deplete Our Natural Forests

Did you know that all the Christmas trees that you will find in Christmas tree lots throughout the country come from designated Christmas tree farms? These trees are grown specifically for the purpose of chopping them down when they reach a mature size so that they can be used for the holidays. When trees are large enough to be chopped down, 1-3 new trees are planted in their place to maintain a constant supply. So, the tree population is not reduced due to Christmas tree farming! In fact, it is maintained, protected, and in many cases increased. And if you are wondering about the people who go chop down their own trees out in the forest, you must obtain a permit to do this, and there are only a limited number of these permits available per season to ensure that the natural tree population is not impacted significantly.

Real Trees Contribute Throughout Their Lifetime to the Environment

Christmas tree farms are usually located in areas where the land is unsuitable for other purposes. Because pine trees are hardy, they can be planted on barren slopes and grown underneath power lines. More than 500,000 acres in the U.S. are devoted to Christmas tree production. And did you know that one acre of a tree farm provides enough oxygen for 18 people? Now that's a lot of oxygen! Not to mention, each year, an acre of Douglas Fir trees can absorb 11,308 lbs of carbon dioxide. Can your fake Christmas tree do that??

They Can Be Repurposed After the Holiday Season

Unlike fake Christmas trees that live on for centuries in our landfills, real Christmas trees are an all-natural, renewable source that can be recycled or repurposed easily and with no harm to our environment. There are several different locations throughout the City of Fort Collins where trees can be dropped off once the holiday season has come to an end. These trees are then chopped into firewood, turned into mulch to be used in landscaping throughout the city, are used for reclamation projects, in natural areas, for hiking trail maintenance, and so many other purposes!

So, is it Better to Buy a Real or Fake Christmas Tree?

While artificial trees offer long-term solutions to holiday decorating and can be easier on your wallet over time, consider the fact that artificial trees are generally replaced every few years and then tossed in a landfill where they live forever. More than 80% of artificial trees are imported from China and are made from materials that take years on end to decompose. So, while they do have some benefits, fake Christmas trees, in the long run, are not good for the environment and simply add to the ever-growing issue of materials that will take hundreds of years to decompose being tossed into landfills bigger than most of our neighborhoods and subdivisions.

While real Christmas trees are more expensive, can be more of a hassle, and can make more of a mess, we believe that it is worth it, given the numerous ways live trees can be repurposed to benefit the world around us. Plus, they are really only a hassle if you view it that way! Half of the fun is getting to go pick out your very own unique tree to bring home and enjoy for the holidays.

Buy a Real or Fake Christmas Tree

So, create some holiday memories with us and swing by Bath Garden Center to take a look at all the beautiful, fresh-cut Christmas trees we have to offer. Once you walk through the rows upon rows of elegant evergreens and take in the aroma of fresh pine, there is no way you will be able to resist the allures of a real Christmas tree! Once you find "the one", we will give it a fresh cut, net the tree, and load it onto your vehicle for you. In special circumstances, we may even be able to offer Christmas tree delivery services within Fort Collins. Just ask one of our employees and we can discuss the options we have available. If you have any questions or concerns, do not hesitate to reach out! We are happy to assist in any way we can.

Merry Christmas, and Happy Holidays!!


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