Christmas Trees: The Battle Between Real vs. Artificial - Quicken Loans Zing Blog

It’s a heated debate during the holiday season: Should you purchase a real or a fake Christmas tree?

Well, I can’t really settle the debate definitively. It comes down to personal preference, and what you feel is more important in the grand scheme of things. However, what I can do is throw out a few ideas to consider. So before you rush out to buy your tree, take a breath ­– here’s some food for thought to mull over.

Pros and Cons of a Real Christmas Tree 

Many people say a real Christmas tree is the only way to go. You get the real pine smell, and they’re naturally lush and full – unless you somehow get stuck with a Charlie Brown tree. No matter what artificial tree makers do, they simply can’t replicate the qualities of a natural tree.

Furthermore, as my colleague Chrissy pointed out, tree growers must abide by environmental regulations – meaning for every tree harvested, they must plant three new ones. This not only replenishes tree supplies, it also means more trees that can absorb carbon dioxide and turn it back into oxygen. While I want to lean toward a real tree, mainly because of the eco-friendly qualities and the fact that I love breathing clean air, I think I’ll put all the information out there first before anyone makes a final decision.

When I thought about it, real Christmas trees have many drawbacks. One factor is cost. Recently I visited the store, and they sold trees in the parking lot. I looked around a bit and noticed trees could cost anywhere from $40 to more than $100 a pop! Some cities even charge a fee for Christmas tree disposal, so make sure to check with your municipality to see if there’s a fee. Repeat this after several years, and you’ll spend a few hundred dollars in no time.

Real trees may seem like an eco-friendly option, but they may be covered with dangerous chemicals or pesticides if they’re not organically grown. notes, “…they are farmed as agricultural products, meaning repeated applications of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers may be used throughout their lifetime.”

Real Christmas trees also tend to shed needles, which can be poisonous to pets or children, so vacuum regularly. Furthermore, you have to make sure you water the tree daily. Otherwise you’ll end up with a sad, brown tree by Christmas. If you have pets, check the water more often. Last time we had a real tree, I noticed my cat would drink water from the tree stand.

Pros and Cons of an Artificial Christmas Tree

Artificial Christmas trees continue to gain popularity due to their cost savings. It’s a one-time purchase that you can drag out of storage once a year. Considering you can buy an artificial, pre-lit tree to use repeatedly for the price of one real tree, the savings can be a big factor if you’re on a tight holiday budget.

I also like the idea that artificial trees don’t have poisonous needles that could harm our cats – particularly because my cat likes to climb the tree. Plus, I don’t have to check the water all the time ­– making sure there’s enough in there for the tree and our cats. It’s just one less thing to worry about during this busy time of year.

The downside of artificial Christmas trees is that they’re made of PVC plastic, which is one of the most difficult types of plastics to recycle. The environmental impact goes further than just the plastic, though. The Daily Green notes that most artificial trees are made in China, and shipping trees from Asia to the U.S. adds toxic emissions into the atmosphere.

Another thing that deters most people from fake Christmas trees is that they don’t have the feel or smell of natural ones. There’s not a whole lot you can do about the plastic feel. To address the problem of the scentless-fake tree, my family just put a pine-scented candle or air freshener in it.

My personal preference would be a real Christmas tree because it’s more environmentally friendly ­– providing that I buy an organic tree. However, if you’re more concerned with saving money, then you probably bought an artificial tree years ago. For those of you who haven’t purchased a tree yet, consider some of the above ideas first.

Do you buy a real Christmas tree every year, or do you lug the artificial tree out of the attic? Share your thoughts on your preference with other readers!


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