Did you know the first artificial tree was made by a toilet brush company? Kind of makes sense when you think about it. The Addis Brush company first manufactured Christmas trees in the 1930s—and the concept still stands today.

But which is best? All-natural or artificial?

Chances are you’re a conifer connoisseur or an artificial aficionado—but either way the tree splits, there are pro and cons for both. Here are a handful:

NATURAL TREES

Pros

  • Grown in United States: the natural trees you see on display at the tree farm originate in the US. There are 446 million coniferous trees growing on farms in the United States alone—and these farms help stabilize soil, shelter wildlife, generate oxygen, and employ over 100,000 workers every year.
  • They’re recyclable: real trees will always have this over their counterfeit counterparts. Many trees are put through a chipper and used as mulch for parks and landscaping. There are drop-off sites available right here in Cumberland County. Contact the municipal coordinator in your district for information on Christmas tree disposals.
  • Manual seed dispersal: for every tree that’s harvested, two to three seedlings are planted. So when you think you’re taking from the environment, you’re actually giving back.

Cons

  • Poor air quality: contrary to popular belief, natural trees don’t filter air, but instead diminish air quality. According to a study, within the first three days of having a natural tree indoors, mold spores per cubic meter remain around 800—what’s considered a “normal” amount. But by the fourth day, mold spores per cubic meter rises to 5,000!
  • Increased fire hazard: when selecting a natural tree for your home, be sure the tree’s fresh cut and well-watered. The drier the branch or the bark, the higher the fire hazard.
  • High maintenance: all natural means all hands on deck. From daily water rations, bowing branches, and hundreds of prickly needles all over the floor, caring for your tree is a daily effort.

ARTIFICIAL TREES

Pros

  • Untampered air quality: aside from some attic dust that might settle on your tree in its box while in storage, an artificial tree won’t alter the air quality in your home. But remember to keep space heaters at a safe distance—not only could it catch fire, but the intensive heat could melt the fibers and a release harmful PVC chemicals into the air.
  • Lower risk of fire: while artificial trees are still susceptible to fire—particularly pre-lit trees—synthetics won’t “dry out” and become more flammable like natural ones. There are more factors at play with fire when taking home a real tree.
  • Low maintenance: synthetic trees are praised for ease and storage. Out of the box, onto the stand, a fluff of its branches, and you’re practically ready to light up your holiday. No need to water, no messy pine needles, and it will always keep its shape.

Cons

  • Cannot be recycled: potentially the most problematic aspect of artificial trees is what happens after they’re used. These trees are typically made of PVC plastic which contains lead, and cannot degrade on its own. And due to the processed materials, the trees cannot be recycled, so thousands end up in American landfills with no chance at biodegrading.
  • Made in China: over 85% of artificial trees are imported from China, meaning millions of dollars are sent overseas instead of padding the back pocket of American companies.
  • Carbon footprint: the environmental effects of all the factories producing synthetic trees are imaginably eyepopping, let alone the emissions from transporting millions of trees halfway across the globe to the United States.

If you’re looking to go green this holiday season, click here, or visit the rest of our blog for tips on recycling and news on economic growth in Cumberland County.

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