Are You “Fir” Real or “Faux” Fake?

To those that celebrate Christmas, do you still whole-heartedly stand by a “real” Christmas tree, say a Doug, Grand, Frazier or Noble fir?  Or, are you in the camp that faux is where it’s at – fake it baby, just don’t break it! Or, maybe you are really hard-core – part of the ‘live tree party movement’ – that goes potted and takes it all the way by finding a permanent outdoor home?

Yes, I am a gardener and therefore have the tendency to think fresh is always best.  But even if I wasn’t, I can’t see putting up a faux tree. For me, the essence of the whole tradition is bringing an awesome organism from the natural world to your indoor environment to connect to the world at large and ancient times. (I know this is not the historic legend behind the Christmas tree but it is what it means to me.) Some type of tree grows most everywhere around the world and they have been around since pre-historic times so I feel they connect us to the earth and to time gone by thousands of years ago.

Too philosophical, o.k. a simpler take – the genuine smell of a real Christmas tree cannot be replaced with artificial air fresheners or potpourri.  And what about the fun of taking a natural, imperfect anatomy and turning it into a head-turning beaut of a tree. You know, the ‘Charlie Brown’ factor of a having a real Christmas tree.

Note the hole in the upper left side...

I will admit to having had thoughts of getting a make-believe tree in recent years.  They have become more appealing –  especially when many of my friends have their plastic wann-a-bee-trees up by December 1 and are on to other parts of the busy Holiday season while say on Dec. 10th,  I’m still considering where we are going to get our real tree.

I KNOWthere is quite an upside to these counterfeit creations like…

Fake $350 Costco tree looking pretty perfect
  • -easier to put up, no hassle with selection, getting it your home, re-cutting the bottom to fit in the tree stand, etc…
  • -can be put up early,  no need to worry about needle fall, dry-out, or fire hazards
  • – all branches are equal-in terms of strength and length, no strategizing necessary of where and how to place ornaments
  • -cost effective (for sure)
  • good for environment

Uh oh…good for the environment?  This is where I see a faux tree as more fraudulent than ever…

Who actually believes a faux tree is better for the environment than a real tree?  I have thought about this quite a lot and I just don’t see how someone can place this “spin” on a faux tree.

Considered fairly, an artificial tree is made one time so one batch of chemicals and one batch of by-product.  It’s then shipped thousands of miles (mostly likely by boat) across an ocean, then trucked to a retail outlet, purchased and then used (hopefully) at least 10-15 years (maybe more).  So, it can seem like a reasonably “green” purchase, but then its ultimate destination is the landfill where it lies for another million or trillion years putting out toxic fumes and taking up space.

To the best of my knowledge fake Christmas trees are not made out of recyclable plastic so there is no repurposing.

Now look at the difference when comparing a real Christmas tree.  Sure, farmed Christmas trees consume some resources while growing…water for one. However, most Christmas tree farms are located in areas like the Pacific Northwest, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Michigan where there is ample natural moisture. In other words, not a lot of irrigation required.

Yes, real Christmas trees may be sprayed with pesticides but don’t forget artificial trees put out toxic fumes from the plastic production.  And yes, real trees are trucked all over the country each year and these factors give them some undeniable marks in the ‘environmental unfriendliness’ column.

BUT, consider this…

prior to harvest farmed Christmas trees are a carbon sink, harnessing bad greenhouse gasses while producing oxygen at the same time. They are continually replenished with two or three seedlings for every one tree that is harvested for the holiday.  In addition, American Christmas tree farms provide over 500,000 acres of wild life habitat and green space.  Did you notice some key words…American farms…real Christmas trees are actually “made” i.e., “manufactured” here in America.

Courtesy of one of my local garden centers - Zamzows

And the topper, making them hands down the most environmentally friendly choice, their final resting place is right where they started – the earth.  They are 100% biodegradable, recyclable.  When composted, they actually even improve the earth adding nutrients back into the soil!

So keep it “FIR” real people!  (Or Spruce or Pine) Stand strong by a real (fresh from the farm, live or forest permitted) Christmas tree.

(That’s once you get it and have it in the house. :))

And Voila...you see? A real beaut...
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11 thoughts on “Are You “Fir” Real or “Faux” Fake?

  1. Great points. When I was younger we couldn’t have a real tree because of my asthma. Now we travel at the holiday so we do not have a one except for a ceramic one. We did have a real one for a while there and it was the best. I love the “carbon sink” idea and the fact that the trees are environmentally friendly. Yuck with the plastic which is probably made in China.

  2. Carol

    Your tree looks beautiful, supplied with love and pleasure by family. Then trimmed and decorated by loving hands, that affirms the true meaning of a Christmas tree for me.

    1. Trish

      I was so happy to see that you included information to dispel popular beliefs that artificial trees are the most environmentally friendly choice. Many people keep their artificial trees much longer than they should and the plastic may begin to emit toxic gasses into the home environment. Plus, when we support tree farmers and sellers of fresh trees, we can support small businesses and charities. Getting back to basics, enjoying nature and supporting each other in community; now those are some Christmas traditions worth hanging on to! Great job Andrea!

    2. Thanks for reading! Certainly you are not…there are many out there that go real but I feel we must do everything we can to keep those that might be getting weak and thinking about going faux…

  3. Mary

    Growing up in Pleasant Valley, we always had a Juniper tree for our Christmas tree… I continued the tradition with my family and now my daughter carrys it on with her family. Entering the house and smelling Juniper is Christmas to us…

    1. Thanks for the comment! I’ve always wondered how a Juniper tree would be as Christmas tree. We always had a type of Fir when I was growing up but I love that you had a unique tradition that is being handed down to each generation in your family. Merry Christmas!

  4. After years of pressure from my husband, I finally relented a few years ago and got a faux tree. I have come to regret this decision since that time. I think I was mistaken, as was he, that faux trees were more environmentally friendly. I now think that real trees are the only way to go! Have a great Christmas holiday and all the best to you in the new year!

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