Real or Artificial?
Did you know that the first artificial Christmas trees were wooden poles with dyed goose feathers attached to them? They were common in 19th Century Germany where deforestation for industrial development brought about a concerted conservation effort on the part of local residents. Ranging in size from just two inches to over six feet, these creative holiday “trees” became so popular that they were eventually sold in stores.
In the 1930’s, the Addis Brush Company, seeking to monopolize and profit on the artificial Christmas tree trend, manufactured the first brush bristle tree, direct ancestor to our modern day aluminum and plastic trees. Will you buy one of those this year? Is an artificial tree actually a “greener” option as those who created them believed, or are they in fact a more economically impactful choice? How will you make your choice?
• While they’re growing, Real Christmas Trees support life by absorbing carbon dioxide and other gases and emitting fresh oxygen.
• Real Christmas Trees are grown on farms just like any crop.
• To ensure a constant supply, Christmas Tree farmers plant new seedlings for every tree they harvest.
• Real Christmas Trees are usually farmed on small or family owned businesses.
• Christmas Trees are often grown on soil that does not support other crops. The farms that grow Christmas Trees stabilize the soil, protect water supplies and provide refuge for wildlife.
• Farm-grown trees are biodegradable, which means they can easily be reused or recycled for mulch or other purposes.
• American Forests, a world leader in tree planting for environmental restoration, has publicly endorsed the commercial growing and use of farm-grown Christmas Trees.
• Real Trees can be recycled in a number of ways, including mulch for parks and trails, in lakes and ponds for fish habitat, dune and coastline restoration efforts and as boiler fuel for factories.
Most artificial Christmas trees today are made of PVC plastic, but you can also buy wood, aluminum, glass or ceramic. There are even companies that manufacture trees out of fiber optic cable and some that make upside down Christmas trees for space conservation. Your choices are diverse and numerous. You may remember feeling overwhelmed the last time you did some holiday ornament and decoration shopping. Has Christmas become too commercialized?
Step back, take a deep breath, and remember what the holiday is supposed to be all about. You can buy that bright pink Christmas tree with glow in the dark tinsel if you want to or you can keep it simple and go with a simple, natural fir tree. You will not be participating in deforestation if you do because most Christmas trees today are actually grown for the sole purpose of being chopped down for the holidays. Yours is most likely nearing maturity right now. Be sure to pick it up early so your whole family can enjoy it.
A Christmas tree is a symbol of hope. It is a beacon to light the way for those desperately in need of holiday spirit. Real or artificial, it becomes a gathering place and focal point for all who reside where it stands, a sight that brings a smile to those who need it and a feeling of joy to family gatherings. It doesn’t matter what kind of Christmas tree you put up this year. What matters is that you have one, even if it’s just a few dyed feathers tied to a pole. Merry Christmas.