I prefer artificial christmas trees. Considering the fact that the artificial tree that I grew up with lasted 20+ years (and looked great each year), they definitely satisfy my ecological concerns.
I bought a new artificial tree last year and aired it out (outdoors in the sun) for a day to dissipate any offgassing. Also, baking and using some EO's gives us enough "Christmas" aroma in the home.
I really just don't like the idea of growing something as majestic as a tree in order to cut it down and hang some ornaments on it for a month - just to end up throwing it away. Some communities "recycle" christmas trees, whatever that means (mulch?), which might make a little more sense.
OK, I'll be the voice of dissent. There is absolutely no way I would ever tolerate a fake tree. Ever. And I'm allergic to the real ones.
When I was growing up, we would cut our tree from the area of the power lines (this was in Maine and CMP was happy to have people poaching the trees that would eventually have to be cut anyway). I have no problem having a tree that was farmed. I'm not sure what the issue be there. I mean, we're talking about a crop. The difference between a crop tree and corn is growing time... and tree farms stagger plantings so they don't clear cut like corn farmers do. I would, however, object if supplying Christmas trees meant clear cutting wild trees like they do/did in lumber/paper areas, but it doesn't. Plus, my community recycles (yes, mulches or composts) all lawn cuttings, tree and shrub trimmings and Christmas trees, so there is an added bonus there.
With an artificial tree, real trees are still cut (for the pole and the box it comes in), ores mined (for the metal in the limbs) and plastics produced. Pre-lit trees are essentially disposable, since people like to throw them out when the lights no longer work, ditto when any tree becomes afflicted with oddly bent limbs and the color-coding rubs off and you can't figure out how to put it together any longer. I doubt they're recyclable, since the different materials are so mixed in their construction.
Yeah, when we get to the point where we don't want to deal with a real tree, I'll string lights in an indoor ficus. (of course, they're so persnickety about being touched and otherwise insulted, I'll probably end up with a dead ficus stick with some lights in it.
I was going to go for no tree this year, except my outdoor evergreen, and some indoor craft projects. But my mom is going to give us the old fakey from the last 15 years. So outgassing already done, free for us, and still looks pretty! Whenever this one falls apart though, I think we will go with no formal, big ol xmas tree. I think a tree top, cut off is a good idea, the rosemary shrub is always good, but man if I did a new one every year I would have one impressive rosemary crop in the backyard!
We do a real one. We usually go to the charlie brown lot and pick out the best in the pile. We do recycle our tree. Basically everyone sets out there tree on the curb a certain day and someone comes around and picks it up. Then, the boyscouts, make a crate kind of and anchor it to the bottom of the lake. Then they take the trees and fill the crate. This provides food for fish throughout the winter and offers them protection from bigger fish because they can swim into th trees and hide.
We've alway had a real tree. We cut our own from a local tree farm. However, last year I decided to purchase an artificial tree for dirt cheap at the after-Christmas sales; because we really need a tree on the main level and in the downstairs family room with fireplace area, too. So this year I will have one of each. I'm curious how I'll feel about the artificial tree once it is up. Real Christmas trees have gotten so expensive anymore ...
We have a real tree, but we've had it for a few years. It started off as a sapling that we stuck in a wine barrel. We keep it on the porch and it comes in for a few days each winter. It's really getting too big for the barrel now, so we'll have to plant it this coming year.
We can't really win on this issue. I suppose the best thing would be a living tree, but in the near desert of So Cal I wouldn't be able to keep it alive. Next best is a tree from a local farm; they are just a crop, and can be mulched by the city after the holidays (don't use tinsel or flocking). They aren't trucked thousands of miles or cut from pristine forests. They support the local economy and small scale farmers. The downside is that Christmas tree farmers use a lot of pesticides, and in our area they are using scarce water to grow what amounts to a disposable decorative crop.
That said, we currently have an artificial tree. We often travel right after Christmas, and it was a chore to come home on Christmas and dismantle the tree so it wouldn't be a fire hazard in our home while we were gone. A couple of years ago we bought an artificial tree. So now that we have the artificial tree we'll use it as long as we can. After that, I hope to switch to a locally grown tree. I'd skip the tree, but DH and the boys won't have it.
I don't have a problem with a real tree or a fake one for that matter. We have a small fake one that my son decorates and redecorates for months. A real one wouldn't last that long.
I imagine it's great fun to go to a farm and cut a tree down. I haven't done it, but it would be cool.
Here's my plan for 2010:
It will be the centennial for our house (see sig) and one of the house history stories we have heard is of a previous owner bringing in a 20 foot high tree for Christmas. He attached the top of the tree to one of the ceiling beams to stabilize it. The great room of the house opens two stories to massive exposed beams. It must have been fantastic. I think that's a great thing to repeat for a centennial. We'll just have to find a tree ear-marked for removal. Or perhaps I should plant one now. Hmmm. I hadn't thought of that. I wonder what the growth rate it. Will have to investigate.
Artificial Christmas trees can contain lead and flame retardants. Here in California, the trees come with a warning on them. I just saw one telling you to keep them away from children and wash your hands after contact with the tree. Some holiday lights also have lead, to help insulate the PVC coating on the wires.
I do not celebrate Christmas but if I did I would probably have a fake tree. Even though towns recycle the trees I can still remember as a child seeing all those thrown away trees after the holidays with a lone piece of tinsel blowing in the breeze. It always made me feel sad.