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Real or fake? That is the question

Real or fake? That is the question…

Christmas has always been my favorite time of year. I love everything about it. Spending time with family, the decorations, the lights, the music…all of it! We always had a real tree growing up & come to think of it, I don’t recall anyone who had an artificial tree in their home. I remember it being a hassle to get the tree up and straight, my dad would put the lights on first and then my mom, brother and I would put up the decorations, Boney M’s Christmas playing in the background because it was my dad’s favorite. There were special ornaments that only my mom would put on and the rest would be up to my brother and me. We’d always have to wait until after my mom’s birthday on December 12th to put the tree up & decorate the house for the holidays. I loved doing all of it, especially helping my dad with the lights on the house! I always think of that when I watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation…untangling the mess of light strings and checking all the bulbs. Makes me laugh every time!

When it was just my mom and I many years later, we got a fake tree. At my dad’s house we always had a real one but for us girls on our own, fake was the easier alternative. It was kind of strange to be honest. I missed the smell of the fresh tree, but it looked great and had branches perfectly placed so it was nice to decorate! Since then I’ve gone back and forth between real and fake (that first one we got lasted 20 years and was finally retired this year!) but prefer the real version hands down. I love the tradition of going out and picking the perfect tree, cutting it down and bringing it home. The wonderful smell that fills the house when you first put it up and the excitement of making it the most beautiful centerpiece of your home. The festive decorations and cozy, twinkly lights while Christmas music plays in the background! Just writing this brings a smile to my face. It’s these times the most that I miss my dad. Christmas hasn’t been the same since he passed away and I wonder if that feeling will ever return. I am finding new ways to love it through my daughter though & Christmas through her eyes is a totally new experience that I enjoy so much!

Artificial trees have become very popular these days. Its almost the opposite now where most people seem to opt for the ease and cleanliness of fake over the traditional real tree. One of the biggest debates between real and fake is environmental impact, and which is the ‘greener’ choice. I think there are valid arguments for both sides, it just depends on how you spin it. Did you know that the first artificial tree was actually created out of toilet bowl brushes in the 1930’s? Crazy! Ok so let’s weigh the pros and cons of each.

Fake trees are made of plastic and chemicals…not so great right off the top. Majority of them are mass produced in countries where the environment is not quite the concern it should be and then shipping on top of that equals a definite negative footprint for sure. Artificial trees are non-biodegradable, which means they will sit in a landfill after their days in the living room are up, forever. So far not so good for the fake trees! On the flip side, if you keep these trees for decades like my mom and I did you are saving a ton of money each year and saving all those real trees each year from being harvested. I think that’s a good thing but I’m sure most don’t keep their trees quite as long. This is where the problem lies, turn over of the fake tree to replace it.

Real trees have the obvious benefit of being real, growing naturally and biodegrading when their life span is up, albeit at an extremely slow rate. Alternatively, recycling of real trees is an amazing use of them once they have completed their Christmas décor journey. They can be recycled into mulch and used for landscaping, gardening, playgrounds, trails & walkways. Real trees produce oxygen as well while they are growing and cultivating over the years into a decent sized tree. Sustainable farming practices are important to ensure a ‘greener’ alternative and without them, there are some drawbacks to the real tree as well. Shipping trees long distances can lead to negative environmental impact for reasons such as pollution, high costs associated with fertilizing, and water consumption are also potential negatives.

Overall, in terms of the environment I’d say a real tree is the better option. They are usually bought and sold locally which benefits the community as well as reduces shipping pollution and they are a carbon neutral product with many options for recycled use after you’re finished with it in your home! A Christmas tree is the focal point of the holidays and whether you opt for the real or artificial variety, there are ways to make yours a ‘greener’ choice overall. Happy decorating!

Much love, Christina xo

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