Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree: Pine or Plastic?

By Derek Lirange, Worcester Tree Initiative

Do you feel that chill in the air? Tis the season to deck the halls, listen to holly jolly jingles, and sip cocoa. Ask 10 people what their favorite holiday of the year is and most of them will tell you it’s Christmas! Even though we stress out at malls trying to find the perfect gifts, completely derail our dietary goals, and have to adjust to the cooling temperatures there’s still something magical about this time of year that can’t be overwhelmed.

One of the favorite traditions this time of year is decorating a Christmas tree. It’s a tradition that has a long history with its roots in pagan tradition rather than Christian. Evergreens are a mark of life in a landscape of leafless trees and many religions would celebrate that life by bringing evergreen branches and trees into their homes. According to The History Channel’s History of Christmas Trees the practice became popularized for Christians when Queen Victoria of England encouraged her husband, a German who had been raised decorating a tree each winter with his family, to bring the tradition to into their home. The masses caught on and the rest is history!

Decorating trees remains a favorite tradition but now we have the choice, do you buy a real tree each year? Or should you invest in a plastic tree, which are becoming increasingly realistic looking, even up close? The issue can be polarizing with people taking strong stances for both sides. Those for real trees argue that there’s nothing that can replace the look and smell of the real deal, and there’s a certain sentimentality to going out and picking the perfect tree. Proponents of fake trees like the ease of setting the tree up, the fact that they don’t have to water the tree, or vacuum up needles, or find a way to dispose of the tree at the end of the season. Additionally, some might argue that cutting trees down is bad for the environment! We’re talking about millions of trees a year that get cut down.

As tree people you might thing that we here are Worcester Tree Initiative are proponents of fake trees however the issue isn’t so clear as it may seem. Consider that Christmas tree farms are a business, for every tree they cut down they have to plant another tree in order to have more to sell in the years to come. Furthermore, plastic trees do eventually need to be replaced, meaning more plastic in landfills that won’t degrade for thousands of years, and I personally take issue with that. Natural Christmas trees biodegrade. In Worcester they become part of the municipal compost which is free to Worcester residents and available at the yard waste facility on Millbury Street.

Personally, I like real trees, I grew up picking out a real tree with my family and I’d like to continue the tradition with a wife and kids of my own some day. But, admittedly, there are a lot of good reasons to go with a plastic tree. Whichever you choose I hope you love your tree and that it brings you joy each time you look at it.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from Worcester Tree Initiative!