What You Might Not Know About Fake Christmas Trees
Where do they come from?
Most fake trees (85%) in the U.S. are imported from China. Almost 10 Million fake trees were sold worldwide in 2003. The U.S. Commerce Dept. tracks the Import of Fake Trees
What are the factories like where they’re made?
As noted in the Washington Post, “On the concrete floors of Zhang’s Shuitou Company factory, migrant workers, most earning about $100 a month, squat in front of hissing machinery as they melt chips into moildable plastic…” Read the full article.
What are fake trees made of?
Most artificial Christmas trees are made of metals and plastics. The plastic material, typically PVC, can be a potential source of hazardous lead. Read awarning about them from the Children’s Health Environmental Coalition.
Why do some artificial trees carry a warning label?
The potential for lead poisoning is great enough that fake trees made in China are required by California Prop 65 to have a warning label. Read more about the effects of lead poisoning. Learn more about lead in artificial trees. View a 2007 report from CNN on the dangers of lead in holiday decorations, such as fake trees and wreaths:
Why did the USDA quarantine some artificial trees?
Some fake trees have a wooden center pole. In 2004, the U.S. Department of Agriculture placed a quarantine on fake trees from China, which had a potentially harmful beetle in the center pole. Learn more about the quarantine.
Who decided to make a fake Christmas tree?
Actually fake trees were invented by a company who made toilet bowl brushes, the Addis Brush Company. Regardless of how far the technology has come, it’s still interesting to know the first fake Christmas trees were really just big green toilet bowl brushes. Read the article.
Are fake trees really fireproof?
Overloaded electrical outlets and faulty wires are the most common causes of holiday fires in residences – these are just as likely to affect artificial trees as Real Trees. See below for examples:Lights on Christmas Tree Spark KC House FireGiving Tree Fire Damage $1 MillionIn 2004, the Farmington Hills Fire Department in metropolitan Detroit conducted a test of how real and artificial trees react in a house fire. The artificial tree, which was advertised as “flame retardant”, did resist the flames for an amount of time, but then was engulfed in flames and projected significant heat and toxic smoke, containing hydrogen chloride gas and dioxin.
Are fake trees better for the environment?
As mentioned before, most artificial trees are manufactured in China and contain PVC (polyvinyl chloride). In fact, artifical Christmas Trees were recently added to the Center for Health, Environment & Justice’s list of household products containing PVC.
According to the Children’s Health Environmental Coalition, the manufacture of PVC creates and disperses dioxins, which include the most toxic man-made chemical known. Released into air or water, dioxins enter the food chain, where they accumulate in fatty tissues of animals and humans, a potential risk for causing cancer, damaging immune functions and impairing children’s development.
This issue is especially concerning due to China’s weak enforcement of environmental regulations. Delta Farm Press recently addressed China’s environmental crisis in this article.
Resource: National Christmas Tree Association.
Thursday, November 8, 2007
Real Tree vs. Fake Tree: Round 1
Ok, this week I’ll get some ranting out of the way so we can concentrate on positive things the closer we get to the Christmas season.
The rant subject is the “debate” over whether a fake tree is a better eco-choice than a Real Tree. Quite frankly, it befuddles me that there is still a debate at all and that there are consumers out there who still think a manufactured product is better for the environment than a natural product. But, alas, there are.
Part of the problem is the misleading, and sometimes outright false, information put out there. Here’s an example: this Sears ad for a fake, plastic tree describes it as a “Just Cut Balsam.” What?!? It’s not a balsam, and it wasn’t just cut. It was manufactured in a factory somewhere, most likely China, then shipped here. You can post a comment to Sears about this silly, deceptive product description right here.
Here’s another example: in the November/December issue of Mother Jones magazine, there’s a chart comparing real trees and fake trees. The author is Celia Perry. Under the real tree column, in a category called “Dirty Business” it says “produce oxygen, but require tons of pesticides and herbicides.” Now that second part is a totally false statement. They do indeed produce oxygen, as all plants do, but do NOT require tons of pesticides. No source is cited, and phone calls to Ms. Perry went unreturned. Mother Jones’ tagline says “Smart, Fearless Journalism” …. really? Is that why writeds jsut make stuff up?
I was talking with a reporter last week who said a retro aluminum tree had these words on its packaging: “Better for the environment because no tree has to be cut down.” Of course, it comes in a cardboard box … the hypocrisy is astounding.
Here’s the best example – an article from the Hays Daily News in Hays, Kansas. In it, a fake tree seller is touting the lower fuel consumption required to transport fake trees from Asia if you calculate that over 15 years of using the same tree. Uh, relaly? That doesn’t take into account the fuel required to ship raw materials such as plastic and metal to the factory in the first place. Nor does it take into account the energy consumed by the factory itself. Nor does it take into account the fuel consumed to distribute the product from shipping ports to retail outlets throughout the United States. Recently a Christmas Tree farmer calculated fuel use to grow his trees. This is a farm in the Deep South, where mowing is probably required more than other places. He uses 600 gallons of fuel per year (both diesel and gasoline) to grow 14,000 trees. That equates to 5.5 ounces of fuel per tree per year. How many ounces of petroleum is used to make the plastic needles of one fake tree?
Plastic is a product we all sue, but many believe will need to be replaced soon. A recent article in Spirit Magazine said the U.S. uses 2 million barrels of oil every day to make plastic. That represents about 10% of the nation’s total consumption. I found that interesting.
Well, to combat some of the misleading, and sometimes outright false, information that consumers are exposed to, we put together a simple comparison chart. You can access it from the front page of our Web site. I’m confident that sooner, rather than later, consumers will know the truth and know that the eco-friendly choice in Christmas Trees is a renewable, recyclable Real Tree grown on a farm.
Resource: National Christmas Tree Association