Gwen Leron: 50 Shades of Green


Real Deal or Fabulous Fake? Choosing a Christmas Tree

The Pros and The Cons

When I first bought our artificial Christmas tree many years ago, I didn’t know a whole lot about eco-friendliness or about the safety issues I needed to consider. Now that I am in the know, I am faced with this dilemma: What kind of tree is better for the environment and healthier for my family? A real tree or an artificial tree?

These Christmas Tree Alternatives Will Add Joy To Your World

With the holiday season quickly approaching, I need to make a decision soon because our Christmas tree has seen better days. It’s the first tree I bought after getting married and it’s the only tree my children have ever known—but it’s time.

I did some research, and put together a pros and cons list. Here is what I found:

  Real Christmas Tree Pros

  • They are natural
  • They are biodegradable, so they will not sit in a landfill forever
  • Picking out a new tree can become a yearly tradition with the family. This page will tell you where the farms in your area are located.
  • You will be supporting a local tree farmer/business

  Artificial Christmas Tree Pros

  • They can be used for many years, so you will save money
  • They are low maintenance

  Real Christmas Tree Cons

  • Most are grown with pesticides which you will be bringing into your home

Note: Organic, pesticide-free trees do exist, but I was not able to find many Canadian-based sources other than this Vancouver organic tree farm.

  • They can be high-maintenance if you are not used to having a real tree
  • They may be an issue for those with allergies
  • You have to spend money on a new tree each year

  Artificial Christmas Tree Cons

  • They are made from #3 plastic, also known as polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a non-biodegradable, petroleum-derived plastic. PVC is known as the most toxic plastic.
  • They are non-recyclable and non-biodegradable, so after you are finished with it, it will sit in a landfill...forever
  • Some artificial trees may contain lead. Lead is extremely toxic and can cause long-term health problems
  • The majority of artificial trees are manufactured overseas which means they have to travel thousands of miles to get to your home, thus creating a huge ecological footprint

Another option is to buy or rent a live potted tree. Once the holiday season is over, it is replanted in the ground and then dug up again when the next holiday season rolls around. I was only able to find two Canadian rental companies, both based in Vancouver. Check out Evergrow Christmas Trees Co. or CarbonSync. If you want to buy one and replant it on your own property each year, inquire about this option with your local nurseries.

So, after weighing all the pros and cons, I'm leaning towards a real tree. In the end, the choice is one that only you can make, basing your decision on how much weight you place on each of the points listed above.

What kind of tree will you be using this year? Why?