Real or fake tree for the holidays?

Which do you think is more environmentally sound? A real tree or a fake one? We’ve been undecided for the past two years, so we haven’t put up one at all! I’ve never tried a poll before, so let’s do one! Let us know what you think and whatever number is highest by December 15th is the one we’ll choose!

Manly men removing the tree.

The Pros and Cons lists (or skip to the poll at bottom)

Pros for a Real tree:
1. It smells comforting and festive.
2. Many cities will fetch them after the holidays for a special tree-mulching fest. The mulch is used in parks around town.
3. It can be composted.
4. It can be burned in the fire-place or fire pit in the back yard to roast your marshmallows over.
5. Christmas tree farms grow them specifically for the season so they don’t deplete the forests.
6. Could it truly be considered zero waste?

Cons for a Real tree:
1. It’s a real tree, cut down for a short holiday.
2. There’s no real reason for the tree, except that it looks pretty and it’s tradition.
3. It dies quickly.
4. The pine needles make a mess.
5. You have to get it home from the store…
6. It’s a REAL, LIVING tree taking in carbon dioxide and producing oxygen–which we kind of need.
7. Unless it was locally grown and cut, it was most likely shipped hundreds of miles to where you are.


Pros for a fake tree:
1. You can use it every year over and over again; the ultimate reusing project.
2. It doesn’t really look any different from a real one. (I don’t think so. We grew up with a fake one, which my mom still uses 36 years later. That would have been 36 real trees later.)

Cons for a fake tree:
1. It’s PLASTIC.
2. It’s made with petroleum-based materials.
3. Because it’s plastic, there’s the chance it produces  VOCs (volatile organic compounds), harmful indoor air pollution.
4. It’s most likely shipped hundreds of miles to your nearest store.
5. It will one day end up in the landfill.
6. It’s not zero waste.

Pros for no tree:
1. It doesn’t affect the environment one way or another.
2. No mess to clean up from the real tree.
3. No toxic gases to breathe in from the fake tree.
4. No guilt.
5. No trouble.
6. You admire everyone else’s tree even more, since you don’t have one.
7. It is zero waste.

Cons for no tree:
1. It isn’t very festive.
2. People look at you funny.
3. People say you’re a Scrooge.
4. It doesn’t feel as much like the holidays.

What do you think? How do you celebrate? What decorations do you choose? Or do you opt out like we have? (Keep in mind, we have no kids yet. That changes things a bit.)


27 responses to “Real or fake tree for the holidays?

  1. I did this debate on my site a couple years ago. I forget the consensus though. But I have to go with the fake one for the sake of economy. We been using the same one for 14 years now. My wife got it from her parents and I don’t know how long they used it. It actually looks real when you stand back and look at it.

    Wrote By Rote

  2. I think that as you are into all things green, that having a real one would mean killing a tree,even if it has a root there is no guarantee that it will replant and survive.
    Some fake ones ( like fur) can look real and will last for years…. I chose to poll for an aliminium one because not only is it reuseable but it will twinkle in the sunshinel

    whatever you get…. have a happy one!

  3. Most Oregon Christmas trees are topped, not cut down. And when you cut a Christmas tree at the tree farms they leave a bottom branch, train it upwards with a stake and it uses the existing root system to grow into a new tree very quickly. Fakes are Chinese built. Real sustain American family traditions, yours and the farmers. Guess how I voted!

    • I didn’t know they were topped. I learned something new today! My husband said, “That’s interesting. So, you’re just cutting the top off essentially.” It just keeps on growing!

  4. I would choose a real one if I knew its’ localy grown (as we did last year). We are not going to have a tree this year at all. I’ll try to decorate the house in a different way with the decorations from the last year.
    I grew up with a fake one as well, and I didn’t mind it. Now my husband as a atheist didn’t want to have tree at all. I am not a religious person myself but I like the tradition of having the tree so last year we compromised for a really small tree. It worked perfect.

    • Myhusband had a tiny tree when I first met him. He had it in a little pot and watered it and decorated it for the holiday with lights. He tried to keep it alive but the little thing died. Then he burned it in the fire pit in the backyard when we grilled out one night. Shame we coudln’t have kept it alive. Then we could have planted it in the back yard when we left as a good-bye present to his land lady!

  5. P.S. Polish mom.
    I like how you two compromise from year to year. One year you have a tree, one year you don’t.

    • yeah… it’s more like saving plan for this month (not to have a tree this year).lol
      but, yes, my husband was really happy when we’ve decided to not to have any… .
      I love the idea of having little living one in a pot and planting it later. We were thinking about the same but every where we lived it was an apartment so the idea of planting it or leaving it somewhere behing wasn’t really possible.

  6. I’ve had both; and much prefer the real tree for the pine scents, but I hate the needle dropping thing. Either way, fake or real, a tree is a must in our home, a fake tree this year, because we will be traveling back and forth during the holidays. Otherwise, it would not feel like Christmas.

    • Marcia, I agree, it does give the house a holiday feel! Being single and in the military for years, I didn’t have a tree, and I got used to it. That seemed like more of a family thing, and most young enlistees returned home for Christmas, anyway. But not all of us could afford it. Now that I’ve started a family of my own, my hubby’s bachelor ways didn’t include a tree either. Meshing ideas together, we both brought with us treeless Christmases. I think it’s different when you have the kiddies and the grandkiddies. But as a couple who never had trees, it doesn’t seem weird….my husband does have a fake wreath we always hang on the door. Glad we had this talk because I completely forgot about it until just now! I guess that’s been our tree, huh? 🙂
      Thanks for always commenting on my ideas. You’re so kind. I hope you have a wonderful holiday season and safe travels!

  7. They fake ones do last forever. Augh! That’s part of my problem with it though. I’m SO on the fence!!

  8. In my mind there is no question that a real tree is more environmentally sound. You are supporting local farmers; it is a renewable resource. It is not made from petroleum in China. Most communities turn them into mulch which then builds soil.

  9. One thing to consider–years ago we had a very small house and a fireplace, and the tree always got brittle before the season was close to being over. One year a ladybug flew out and started crawling over my sweater, then another, and I crawled around and found a nest of ladybugs clinging to the trunk. There were hundreds! Maybe thousands–the trunk was red. We had to quickly undecorate the tree and haul it outside before the whole colony woke up. But it was a great memory.

    We always tromp over the tree farm, arguing and yelling to each other to come see the tree we found. The farmer offers hot cider and the young grandchildren shake the needles for a dollar tip. It’s part of Christmas. What memory are you going to make–having your kids help haul the boxes down from the attic???

    I made your spinach souffle for my mom. Thanks–delicious. If you want to leave a memory of a hard scrabble Christmas at my blog, drop on over. I love comments.

    • Anne! What a GREAT story. I bet they were beautiful covering the trunk. And you tried the spinach souffle and liked it! That makes me so happy! DId your mom like it? I’m headed to your blogspot!

  10. From Jessica on Facebook:

    “I read a magazine this month (maybe Real Simple?) that said some enviro firm determined that a real tree is better. I believe this was based primarily on all the fossil fuels used in both producing the plastic and then shipping the fake trees all the way from China. I think you should just plant a real live one in the yard and decorate it outdoors each year. That would be pretty cute.”

    Thanks Jessica! Great idea!

    • What a smart girl, that Jessica. PLANT a tree and then you could just decorate it in your front yard each and every year. When we finally settle in one place, that’s the one I’m rooting for! With popcorn and cranberries the birds could eat it off like bird food. Win, win.

  11. I think I will use a ceramic tree this year….it already has the little holes in it and you can stick the lite bright lights in it and not worry about any mess. You can use it over and over every year unless, of course, you knock it off the table and it breaks.

  12. Pingback: Oh Christmas tree, Oh Christmas tree… | Attempting zero waste lifestyle in a military household

  13. Hi–There are lots of reasons to purchase a living or cut tree over a fake one. I recently wrote about are just a few:

    • Christmas trees are grown on farms just like any crop, making them a renewable resource that gets planted each year.

    • Tree farms help to stabilize the soil and provide homes for wildlife. And, growing Christmas trees can help save open space because many farmers plant them in soil not good enough for other crops.

    • Christmas trees are recyclable and make great mulch. Your parents can get out the chipper/shredder and use the tree mulch in the spring, or add the mix to your compost pile.

    • You’re buying a local product, while many fake trees are manufactured in, and shipped from far away places like China.

    • When recycled, real trees won’t add to a landfill the way a worn-out artificial one will.

Tell me what you think. I don't get to answer comments like I did before baby but I read every single comment. And they really make my day!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s