It is the time of the year when we have to make a big holiday decision — what type of Christmas tree will you put up? I realize not everyone decorates with a tree, but for those who do, this one is for you.
Living in the Pine Tree State (Maine), I grew up with a real tree. My parents would put it up the day before Christmas and take it down on January 6th. Way back, that was the holiday season. If a real tree is up for only 2 weeks, it doesn’t dry out and the chance of it being a fire hazard is lessened.
For some folks in Maine, the family tradition is to not only have a real tree, but to head into the woods on their property (or on a tree farm) and cut the perfect one down and bring it home. So the act of getting the real tree is as important as having it in the living room.
In the 60s, 70s, and 80s, artificial trees looked, well, fake. They were skinny, had big gaps between limbs, and they smelled like plastic. But in the last 15 years, artificial trees have come a long way and look more like the real thing.
In fact, a 2013 Nielsen survey found that 79% of American homes display holiday trees and of those, 20% are real, and 80% rely on the artificial tree to make their season bright. The tree goes up right after Thanksgiving Day and it comes down 4 – 6 weeks later.
Here are some pros and cons of having a real tree vs. an artificial one:
- Real trees are actually grown on farms, so you’re supporting a local farmer.
- Before harvest, the conifers serve as habitat for birds, insects and other wildlife.
- One acre of a real tree farm produces enough oxygen for 18 people a day.
- At the end of the season, unsold cut trees are composted and recycled for mulch or used as soil erosion barriers.
- Nothing beats the smell of a real tree to get you in the holiday spirit.
- They are usually grown with pesticides.
- If not properly watered, they are a fire hazard.
- They leave a blanket of needles that have to be vacuumed up.
- Artificial trees are reusable, year after year.
- No messy needles.
- Modern artificial trees look real.
- They don’t smell amazing like real, fresh trees do.
- They’re made of PVC, a toxic chemical.
- They never biodegrade so they’ll always be an environmental burden once they end up in a landfill.
If you decorate with a tree for the holidays, what kind of tree do you have in your home, real or fake? And when does it go up, and when do you take it down? Share your stories here!