We know what you are thinking. It’s not even Thanksgiving yet, let alone Halloween, and we’re already talking about Christmas? Yes it is a bit early but with the start of the new school season, we figured it would be a good time to give out some free education. As it turns out, the advent of the traditional Christmas tree is actually older than America’s Bill of Rights and not entirely American. Germans are credited with creating the tradition and bringing it over with them as they immigrated to Pennsylvania in the mid-seventeen hundreds. A lesser know fact is that they were already using artificial trees as opposed to real Firs and Pines. Due to deforestation concerns, Germans had embraced the use of artificial trees that used a wooden pyramid base with green-dyed goose feathers. Swan, turkey and even ostrich feathers were used as well until they gave way to dyed animal hair bristles which in turn gave way to the more modern use of plastic, aluminum and fiber optics. While German immigrants may have discovered the benefits of artificial trees several hundred years ago, that age-old question still remains – real versus fake. As you might have guessed (given the title of this article), there are many reasons to choose a artificial Christmas tree over the real thing, and we’ll take this opportunity to highlight just a few.

Safety First

One of the biggest safety concerns with real Christmas trees is the fire hazard. When ignited, dead trees burn rapidly and at such a high temperature that they usually engulf the room that they are in. If you happen to not be home, or even worse asleep, the resulting damage could be catastrophic. Most artificial Christmas trees are manufactured using polyvinyl chloride, also known as PVC, and are inherently fire retardant. It is important to note that artificial tress are not “fire proof” and can still ignite, they are just less likely to burn. No matter the type of tree you should always take basic precautions: Always turn off the lights when you’re not home or asleep, keep away from heat sources like fire places and candles and always check your lights for faulty or worn looking wiring. If you do choose to purchase a natural Christmas tree be sure to keep it watered at all times as it will greatly reduce the risk of fire.

Environmental/Economical Impact

The environment and economics don’t always go hand in hand but then again Christmas is a magical time. While the initial cost of an artificial tree can sometimes be more than a natural one, you won’t be able to reuse a natural tree the following year. If you dare tried, you would likely give Charlie Brown a run for his money on the most depressing Christmas of the year award. Once you start to reuse your artificial tree the initial cost becomes spread out over each year of use. You should get at least 10 years from an artificial tree, and in some cases, up to 15 or 20. There are a lot of misconceptions about an artificial tree’s environmental footprint. People seem to think that since it is made of plastic it will lay waste in some landfill for a millennium, which it would if you just threw it out the window. However, when properly recycled, the tree is 100% reusable as it can be melted down and used to make other items out of plastic. The American Christmas Tree Association (ACTA) commissioned a life cycle analysis of both a natural and artificial tree and the results filled a 109 page report full of big words and lengthy answers. (The full report can be viewed here.) The conclusion that it found was that after just 5 years of use an artificial tree uses 1.5 times less non-renewable resources than a natural tree, if the artificial tree is used for 10 years the natural tree uses 3 times as much. So in the end the real value of an artificial tree both economically and environmentally comes when you reuse the tree for 5 or more years.

Tis’ The Season To Be Sneezing?

We haven’t been Christmas caroling in some time but we’re pretty sure that’s not how that song goes. Stuff loves to grow on natural trees and sometimes that stuff can be dangerous, such as mold spores. A 2007 American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology study found a natural tree could negatively affect the quality of air indoors. Researchers found that mold counts grew in the air from the time a natural tree was brought in. With an artificial tree you need not worry about things such as mold and dust.

Now That Was Easy

The convenience of an artificial Christmas tree is difficult to overstate. Most artificial trees come with the option of being pre-lit, and in some rare cases, even pre-decorated. Additionally, you’ll never have to worry about watering the tree or picking up dead pine needles. Even in optimal conditions, with proper care, you’ll likely get no more than a 4 week life-span from a natural tree. Compare that to a artificial tree you can leave set up for months or forever if you feel really jolly year ‘round. When you’re done with the artificial tree for the year you can disassemble it with ease and store it in the same box it came in. For more convienient storage, many people choose plastic or canvas tree storage bags. With a natural tree, proper disposal is just another chore to add to your to-do-list.

Ambiance

Have you ever found the perfect Christmas tree just to get it home and see that the dealer had given it a comb over and now your tree is showing some middle aged balding, or even worse, you lost some branches on the way home? With an artificial tree you know you are getting a perfect tree that is full and consistent in color. There are no surprises. Moreover, each branch of an artificial tree is shapable, so fitting the tree in a tight space is far less irritating. Writers note: As someone who grew up gathering around a natural tree as a kid, I was a little hesitant to forgo that tradition and embrace an artificial tree. That day will be six years ago this Christmas, and although I do miss the smell of the real deal, it has proven to be a wise investment. Whichever type of tree you choose to go with, we hope that you have a safe and wonderful Christmas each and every year.

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