When I was a child, we had a family tradition of going to the Christmas tree lot every year to pick out a fresh tree. By “Christmas tree lot,” I mean the parking lot of the nearest grocery store where sellers would set up every year and cart in trees from hundreds of miles away to sell them to unassuming families. I loved the tradition, though, and still remember having to get out my mom’s canister vacuum to clean up all the needles that fell off while we were decorating the tree.
Interestingly enough, I’ve come around to accepting and even appreciating artificial Christmas trees. Although it surprises me to say this, I’m not sure if I’ll ever go back to fresh trees. I love them both, but for me and my family, I think having an artificial tree is a more environmentally friendly option and one that better fits our lifestyle.
My introduction to artificial trees
A few years ago, a friend of mine was getting a new pre-lit artificial Christmas tree and offered me her old one. When I say “old,” I mean this tree was purchased brand-new about five years before and was still in great shape. She was going to call the city for a bulk trash pickup if she couldn’t find someone to give it to, so I decided to jump on the opportunity to save the landfill from getting a giant delivery of plastic. I set it up that first year and although it took about an hour to fluff all of the branches, I realized the whole process was actually much faster than buying a fresh tree (even at a nearby parking lot) and getting it into the house would have been.
Pros and cons
One of the major perks I’ve noticed since getting our artificial tree is we don’t have to pay for a fresh tree every year. Artificial trees, which aren’t bank busters to begin with, pay for themselves quickly. I also really appreciate not having to crawl under a fresh tree to water it every other day and not having to deal with pine needles on the floor.
Most people’s complaints about artificial trees revolve around the environmental impact of the plastic in the trees. Not only does plastic production require require energy and oil, but the plastic also takes hundreds of years to break down. However, fresh trees make their own mark. Unless you live right where the tree is grown, it will be trucked to the farm or lot where you purchase it and then you have to use your vehicle to get it home.
Which kind of Christmas tree is better?
I’ve come down on the side of artificial Christmas trees, largely because they’re convenient and highly reusable. For some people who live near an abundant supply of fresh trees, though, the decision may not be as clear. It’s important to research where fresh trees come from, compare the cost and make the decision that makes the most sense.
If you’re like me, you grew up with a fresh tree and remember well going with your family to pick it out, tying the tree to the roof of the station wagon and carting it home. Now that I have my own family, I’ve gone for an artificial tree, but that doesn’t make the holiday any less special. It just means I can put more energy into decorating the tree I already own and finding ornaments that will be meaningful for years to come.