Will Your Christmas Tree Kill You: A guide to picking the perfect tree


As Christmas creeps closer, millions of people are trying to make a last minute decision on whether to buy an artificial or real Christmas tree this season. According to the articles you read, a real Christmas tree can either save the planet or kill you and your entire family. There are similar stories for artificial trees- the chemicals can either poison you or you could be an ecological superhero depending on what you read. Here is a handy guide that clearly lays out the pros and cons of each type of tree to help you make an informed and panic-free decision.

Real (or fresh) Trees


  • They are a cheap one time purchase
  • They have a nice smell
  • They look more realistic than an artificial tree
  • If it does catch on fire, the chemical fumes from the tree itself are not toxic, they may actually smell pleasant
  • They are not made with PVC and other chemical-laden plastics
  • You can purchase a “balled root” tree that can then be planted outdoors after the holiday
  • They can increase air quality
  • They are typically grown in the USA (even Florida and Hawaii have Christmas tree farms!)
  • You are often supporting small, local farmers when you purchase them
  • They provide a habitat for wildlife while they are being grown
  • They can be argued to be better for the environment than artificial trees, and are viewed as being carbon-neutral
  • If you have a cat, your cat will probably view it as an awesome new cat toy
  • They can be turned to mulch when you are done with them, and they are 100% recyclable


  • Most trees can only be used for one season
  • You need to water the tree
  • Trees often shed needles throughout the season
  • You need to dispose of it at the end of the season
  • They are minimally more flammable than an artificial tree (when watered correctly)
  • There is a small chance they may be harboring spiders or bugs
  • You need to get it home in one piece
  • There is the possibility they were exposed to pesticides or allergens while outdoors
  • If you have a cat, your cat may view the tree as its personal yuletide playground

Artificial (or fake) Trees


  • You buy it once and use it for many years
  • You can typically find taller or smaller trees easily to meet your space needs
  • They have a consistent look
  • They typically come apart for easy storage
  • You don’t need to feel guilty about killing a tree
  • They don’t need to be watered
  • They don’t shed needles all season
  • Many come pre-lit, with lights built in
  • You don’t have to worry about scratching up your car roof while bringing it home
  • It is less of a fire hazard and does not dry out
  • There is less chance of spiders or bugs hitch-hiking their way into your home
  • You don’t need to dispose of it at the end of the season


  • They don’t have that fresh-pine smell
  • They are often made of PVC and other non-recyclables
  • The plastics the tree is made from is a skin irritant for some people
  • If they catch on fire, the flames are typically highly toxic
  • Sometimes they look “too perfect”
  • When you do want to dispose of it, it will probably sit in a landfill for centuries due to the non-biodegradable plastics use to create it

Filed under: Advice, Christmas, Outdoors, Winter

Tags: Christmas

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