12/01/2009

How Much Does Your Christmas Tree Really Cost?



Real or fake - do you know how much your Christmas Tree really costs?

Growing up, my family always went out to my grandparents farm and cut down a tree for Christmas.  After I moved out and had my own place, I continued to have live trees each year - as I'm now a good three hours from the farm - I buy one.  This year, Jordan and I bought our tree from Super Store.  They had a save double the GST day last weekend - so it wound up being $38.  It's a beautiful tree (see left) !







My parents on the other hand, have moved to a fake tree - it's something my dad has always wanted because he didn't like the mess a tree makes.  I believe mom got it at Costco for $150-$200.

One argument is that mom & dad (and everyone else who gets a fake tree) will be able to use it year after year - that's true.  For a great many years they will be able to enjoy the same one whereas Jordan and I will have to purchase a new live tree each year.  After 4 or 5 years the fake tree would have 'paid for itself' so on the surface, it would appear that we should buy a fake tree.

Well, that's not going to happen.

One, I'm a traditionalist to some extent and going out and getting a tree (even from a store), sawing of the base, setting it up, the smell, the mess is part of Christmas for me - I love it all!!

Two, I would argue that it actually costs more to have a fake tree.

According to an article written on about.com (and something my aunt told me this past weekend) fake trees are made with polyvinyl chloride (or PVC, otherwise known as vinyl), one of the most environmentally offensive forms of non-renewable, petroleum-derived plastic.


The article continues by detailing the perils of PVC....


...several known carcinogens, including dioxin, ethylene dichloride and vinyl chloride, are generated during the production of PVC, polluting neighborhoods located near factory sites. Most of those factory sites are actually in China, where 85 percent of the fake trees sold in North America originate. Labor standards there don’t adequately protect workers from the dangerous chemicals they are handling.


Now - there is a downside to purchasing a Christmas tree like Jordan and I did.  Often, these trees have been treated with repeated applications of pesticides over their typical eight-year lifecycles. Therefore, while they are growing--and then again once they are discarded--they may contribute to pollution of local watersheds. The plus of going out and cutting down a tree yourself, like we did when we were little, is that they won't have been treated by pesticides (at least if your getting your tree of my grandparent's farm).

Beyond the run-off issue, the sheer numbers of trees that get discarded after every holiday can be a big waste issue for municipalities that aren't prepared to mulch them for compost.  However; if a city/town is able - these trees can be composted/recycled - which fake trees cannot (at least that I am aware of).

There is a fourth option that I have never tried - I'm curious if any of you have.  You can purchase a live tree, that still has it's roots.  It can then be planted back outside after Christmas.  I've learned that since trees are dormant in the winter, live trees should spend no more than a week indoors as  they may“wake up” and begin to grow again in the warmth of your home. If this happens there is a good chance the tree will not survive once it is returned to the cold winter outdoors and replanted (about.com)


So...Do you know how much your Christmas tree costs?
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13 comments:

  1. Interesting post! A friend of mine is really into issues like this so I think I will forward it to her.

    As for our tree, we have a sad Charlie Brown looking fake tree that I got at Canadian Tire last year. It's just under six feet tall and came pre-wired with lights. It's easy to put together and fits in our storage unit. I think it cost $50. All the decorations came from either the dollar store or my mom's stash of decorations that didn't make the cut when she switched to a "pretty"/"theme" tree.

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  2. Your tree looks lovely. What I liked about cutting our own tree was taking the day and going to find it - I too have memories of my Dad doing this with us. Because both our fathers worked so much, those days they did things with us are precious and magical. Buying a tree from Overwaitea or Home Hardware just had no magic for me.

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  3. We buy our tree from the local hockey team who uses that as their fundraiser. We were in their boat a few years ago. This year our tree costs $50 with about $10ish of that going to the team for support. It comes tonight. There is nothing like the smell of a fresh tree in the living room.

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  4. This is a great article on the benefits and costs of Christmas trees - real and fake. I've been in the camp of a fake tree for a while - purely because I can reuse the heck out of it and buy the thing once in my life time. My family has had two trees in my lifetime. Both of them fake. WE donated our previous tree as part of Christmas delivery we made to the family we donated to when we were ready for a new more real looking tree.

    i've always wanted a real one, but I have serious allergy issues with them that aren't the best thing at the holiday season, often to the point that I don't sit in the same room as the tree at friends' houses.

    In truth I'm not a fan of the material they are made of, but there have been some strides in this area over the last little while. Also, since we are all for keeping things until they are truly completely done, the environmental impact form my tree will affect my grandchildren, when they get rid of it for me. My grandmother has the little table top tree she purchased in 1960 that she still puts out every year with the same decorations on it always.

    Again are really interesting article in this time of year!

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  5. We bought our tree a LONG time ago... So I don't know how much it costed. But I do know that we SOLD the tree at our garage sale 2 summers ago. And we got $20 back. :D

    PS-I've added you to my blogroll and I just did a post introducing your blog. :)
    http://theasianpear.blogspot.com/2009/12/new-links.html

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  6. I am not surprised that a plastic tree would cost more.

    I don't deal with trees at all, but a real tree seems better to me than a fake one

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  7. $38 for your tree? We'll pay about $70 for that same tree. We have been using a fake one for years, but this year we decided to go back to the real tree (and the boys are quite happy). I just sold our fake one for $20. So that was cool.

    BTW, great post. Like the pic, too.

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  8. We have a fake tree. I wish we had a real one, it's worth the extra hassle. The smell is great and it's more traditional. I think we have had two fake ones in my lifetime.

    I like your decorations :)

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  9. Very pretty! My family don't really celebrate Christmas - it wasn't till I was about 15 that we got a tree. My auntie's family (who we spend it with) always do though - they have a tiny fake one they've kept forever.

    I'm not really into Christmas myself either and am not going to bother with a tree. I think the flatmates are managing to score a free one from somewhere this year, though.

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  10. My boyfriend's family would always buy a tree with it's roots then replant it after Christmas. I am not sure how long they kept it indoors but they never had a problem with the replanting.

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  11. I am so jealous!!!

    I WISH I could have a real tree, but my condo rules don't allow it!

    So, fake for me. For now. I will post pictures of my pathetic tree soon!! :)

    By the way, your tree is a beauty!

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  12. Jessie - your tree is beautiful. And what a GREAT post about the issues of real vs fake!

    As a kid we chopped down our own tree. We had a rule that the tree couldn't be any bigger than my step-sister (she's 5 foot even). We always have hot chocolate and sung Christmas carols to the forest to cut it down and back. It was a fantastic time.

    Since I'm been on my own I haven't had a Christmas tree (real or fake). I just haven't had the money to buy ornaments or any of that business. I just hang a few stockings (one for me and each of the animals) and display my presents. That is enough to get me in the spirit!

    However, if/when I have kids - I will definitely start a tree cutting tradition like I had growing up. Very fond memories. =)

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  13. Very Interesting Post.

    We have a small 3 foot table top fake Christmas Tree. But my wife wants to have a bigger tree this year now that we are going to my father's for Christmas. We are still undecided as to what we are going to get for a tree at his place. he doesn't even want to set one up. Although it wouldn't be Christmas without a tree I think.

    regards,

    Jason

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