4 Real Reasons to Ditch Your Fake Christmas Tree
According to a 2018 survey by the American Christmas Tree Association, "82% of Christmas trees displayed are artificial" And of these millions of artificial Christmas trees throughout the US, 90% of them are shipped to the United States from China. These trees from China not only result in a drastic increase in carbon emissions and recourses, but also puts you and your family at risk to the toxins within the artificial tree. The majority of plastic trees are made of a winning combination of Polyvinyl Chloride, flame retardant, and lead.
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC):
PVC is a major source of phthalates- a known endocrine disruptor. PVC is used in plastic to make the material more pliable and soft. PVC is used to make the artificial pine needles on fake Christmas trees. Phthalates are a family of chemicals, and while limited research has been performed on all phthalates, three of them are banned from toys and products for children in the United States because of harmful effects seen on lab rats. Phthalates have also been classified as endocrine disruptors, developmental and reproductive toxins, and a potential carcinogen to humans; to read more, click here. Phthalates are easily inhaled which is the 'plastic' smell that these trees give off.
Lead is often used in PVC to stabilize it and make it easier to work with. A 2002 study, found that three out of four artificial Christmas trees contained lead. That is over 50 million families in the US with a PVC-based artificial Christmas tree. And many are unaware of this. California is the only state that mandates a warning label on every artificial Christmas tree that contains lead. Lead particles can leak from the artificial pine needles, breaking down into lead dust, which is then released into the air throughout your home. The inhalation of lead can harm the production of blood cells and high levels can lead to brain and kidney damage.
While flame retardants on your artificial Christmas tree may seem like a great safety precaution, the opposite is actually true. Flame retardants are a group of chemicals required to meet product flammability standards. These chemicals are incredibly difficult to break down, causing them to stay in your body for years. As they accumulate in our bodies, flame retardants have been associated with cancer, fertility problems, negative effects on the immune system, and hormone disruption.
As we mentioned earlier, the vast majority of artificial Christmas trees are shipped from China resulting in excessive carbon emissions. Fake Christmas trees, because they are made of plastic, also result in an increased demand for fossil fuels, like petroleum. PVCs are also an incredibly polluting material. The manufacturing process and the burning of PVC results in the release of a chemical group called dioxins which are persistent environmental pollutants meaning that they stay in the environment for years. Dioxins have been linked to reproductive and fertility problems, liver damage, and developmental problems in children.
What Kind of Christmas Tree to buy:
A local farmer is the most environmentally friendly option in terms of which Christmas tree to purchase. But be sure the farmer doesn't use harmful pesticides or herbicides- as these chemicals are not only harmful to the farmworkers but linger on the tree and end up in your home. Buying from the local farmer ensures that you don't contribute to carbon emissions. When you buy from a farmer, you are actually supporting forests! 10 times as many trees than harvested are planted every year. Only 30 million Christmas trees are harvested while 350-500 million are planted every year! These trees support wildlife that depend on the forest to survive.
While there are PVC and lead-free Christmas trees for sale, we recommend going natural this year and supporting your local organic farmer. If that is not an option for you or your family, click here, to learn how to clean the air within your home of toxic chemicals.