The Holly Jolly Christmas Tree Debate

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Evelyn May, Writer

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and families everywhere have begun filling their homes with holiday cheer and festive decorations. Of course, one of the most widely recognized symbols of Christmastime is the centerpiece of many households right about now: The Christmas Tree. 

About 68% of Olathe West students have artificial trees in their homes, while close to 32% have real trees. The question is, what’s truly the best kind of Christmas tree? Well, that’s been up for quite the debate. All things considered, however, the artificial Christmas tree is really the way to go. 

Sure, fans of real Christmas trees will insist the trees’ fresh pine smell is an essential part of the holiday season. They’ll say it’s a tradition for many families to pick out a new tree every year and put it up in their homes. 

But, real Christmas trees are a hassle to take care of. Keeping it watered properly and dealing with falling needles is something that could surely put a damper on the Christmas spirit. Artificial trees, however, don’t require constant maintenance. Many of them even come pre-lit. So, in using an artificial tree, there’s one less thing to worry about in the stressful holiday season. 

Those who love real trees may love how they bring the great outdoors indoors. And, they may argue that cutting down real trees isn’t actually that environmentally damaging. 

Once [the tree]’s cut down, the farmer will generally plant at least one in its place,” The New York Times said. “The trees provide many benefits to the environment as they grow, cleaning the air and providing watersheds and habitats for wildlife.” 

However, artificial trees are actually even more environmentally-friendly than real trees in the long run. 

Whatever environmental damage is done in producing an artificial tree is somewhat lessened the longer the tree is used. In fact, after a few years of use, an artificial tree may even have a positive impact on the environment- one greater than using a real tree, even. 

“If the artificial tree is kept more than four years, the Global Warming Potential associated with the artificial tree is less than a natural tree purchased every year for more than four years,” A PE Americas study done for the American Christmas Tree Association in November 2010 found. 

This means using an artificial tree for at least four years would be more environmentally-friendly than purchasing a real tree for at least four years. So, if lessening the environmental impact of holiday traditions is something the buyer worries about, artificial trees are once again much better than real trees. 

It’s important to note, however, that real or artificial, the environmental impact of Christmas trees is almost nothing compared to the impact of heightened travel and shopping during the holiday season. 

In a way similar to environmental impact over time, artificial trees are also more cost-effective over time than real trees.  

According to Fortune, “the median price for real trees sold in 2020 is expected to be about $81.” 

Purchasing a new tree every year at that cost will start to add up over time. Artificial trees, then, although they may start at a higher price near a couple of hundred dollars, will actually end up costing the buyer less after years of use.

Purchasing a new tree every year at that cost will start to add up over time. Artificial trees, then, although they may start at a higher price near a couple of hundred dollars, will actually end up costing the buyer less after years of use.”

“A high-quality Christmas tree can easily last for more than 20 years,” the American Christmas Tree Association said. 

Some simple math will show that, after 20 years, the cost of new real trees every year would be about $1,620. There’s no doubt that one artificial tree would be much more economical than purchasing twenty real Christmas trees over that same time frame. 

So, in the end, it’s clear the best tree for the Christmas season is an artificial tree. Real trees will certainly be selected by those who value their tradition and nostalgia, but, for those who are more in favor of a simpler setup and maintenance, an overall better environmental impact, and a much more cost-effective price over time, an artificial tree is the best choice for the holiday season.