Christmas time is upon us, and with the holiday comes the age-old debate that has cause riffs between friends and families for years: should your Christmas tree be real or fake.
Now, I grew up in a fake Christmas tree family. Each time I bring this up to friends that swear by real Christmas trees I receive an outpouring of vitriol and hate that I would not wish on my worst enemy. At first, I had no ill-will toward real Christmas tree people. I thought, perhaps naively, that we could coexist and find a way to show compassion for one another in the spirit of the holiday. Not so. Years of abuse have conditioned me to meet real-tree people with preemptive wariness and even spite.
And so I set to work coming up with reasons why an artificial tree is a better choice than a real one. Cost was always part of an argument, as was longevity and ease of use. My mother’s reasoning was that she was allergic to pine, a disease my siblings and I assume she fabricated in response to the real-tree people that undoubtedly tormented her in her youth.
But what I always fell back on (jokingly, I admit, but I believed the logic was there) was that an artificial tree is more beneficial to the environment. I would say that Christmas is responsible for the genocide (arborcide?) of millions of pine trees every year, and I refused to be a part of it. Well, thanks to an article from the Digital Journal, I can no longer make that claim.
First, there are the tree farmers, who plant one to three seeds for every tree that is purchased at Christmas time. It’s a sort of Christmas tree Hydra scenario in which the removal of a single tree gives birth to several more in its place. Second, and more legitimately, artificial PVC trees release dioxin over time, which is a toxic chemical. So even for the oxygen that the real tree, unremoved, releases, harmful chemicals are being introduced by its replacement. Finally, real trees can be recycled into mulch to help new trees grow. Artificial trees cannot be recycled, instead ending up as garbage in a landfill. Even if left alone, the artificial tree overtime would release twice as many harmful toxins as a real tree in the same landfill. And if each were to burn? The artificial tree will give off ten times as much of a carbon footprint as the real one. A fatal blow to my argument.
This year I will still be putting presents underneath an artificial tree. I’ve had it for years and I’ve recently decided that I’m allergic to pine, as my mother was before me. It’s a part of me, it’s something I live with. But for the rest of you, whether at home or in the office, cutting down a tree might be the best way to help the environment.