The Great Christmas Tree Debate

| 12/28/2011 2:09:28 PM

(Guest Post by Michelle Mather)

Recently a friend of mine expressed surprise when I told her that we have a fake Christmas tree. I think she figured that given our usual "environmental" bent, we wouldn't dream of buying a fake tree made of plastic and metal when the option is something real and made of renewable wood.

"The Great Christmas Tree Debate" was an ongoing discussion in our home about 20 years ago when our daughters were very young (they are 25 and 23 now.) When Cam and I first made a home together, we were in a small apartment and we usually spent most of the Christmas holiday season at his parents' cottage or my parents' home. It didn't make sense to decorate a big tree back then and so we either decorated our Norfolk Island Pine houseplant or we used a small "fake" tree. After our girls joined our family, we eventually began to stay put for our Christmas celebration, and as they got old enough to take part in traditional Christmas activities, we started heading out to a Christmas tree farm and cutting our own tree. We drank hot chocolate and ate potato chips as part of our annual tradition and after enjoying the tree for as long as possible in our home, Cam always made good use out of it, adding the branches to our compost and cutting up the trunk to burn in our fireplace.

We felt a little guilty about cutting down a tree every year and so we began debating whether or not a real or fake tree was the better choice from an environmental perspective.

The debate went on for a few years with no clear winner until finally one year we decided that we couldn't justify killing a tree every year. That year I headed out to the mall on Boxing Day (December 26th) to take advantage of the half-price sales on fake Christmas trees. I found a beautiful tree that had been $149 and I paid $75 for it. At the time a real tree was costing us about $15/year or so, and so I figured that my investment of $75 would be paid off after about 5 years of use.

Michelle Mather
12/31/2011 4:59:52 PM

Yes, I agree Robyn and there has been some discussion of that on our blogs posted elsewhere. I am hoping that my 18+ year old tree has finished off-gassing by now, but I guess you never know.... If you go to this blog post at you'll see a neat "tree" shared by one of our readers....

robyn perry
12/31/2011 9:30:32 AM

Thanks for sharing, Michelle. We had a fake tree for 3 years- I was concerned about pesticides on a cut tree & the frivolity of cutting down a living tree for 3 weeks of decoration. We are now back to a real tree, it was off-gassing that I was concerned about (we have 2 young daughters). Any thoughts on the off gassing issue?

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