It used to be that if you were a young fir seedling on this continent, and assuming you took care to grow hard, you might have a fighting chance one day to find yourself selected as a Christmas Tree. Not so much anymore. Odds are an artificial tree from China has taken away that opportunity. Even so, it’s a season of hope in these times of change.
In fact the Canadian Christmas Tree Association reminded us that we just celebrated National Christmas Tree Day on Saturday, December 3rd. With 69,968 Canadian acres of Christmas tree production underfoot, the good news is that one acre of Christmas trees produces enough oxygen for 18 people. On the face of things, it might not seem significant. But globally, it’s big business. In the US, the 30 million real Christmas trees sold each year represents about one tree for every three of the eligible US voters who didn’t vote in the recent presidential election.
Annual artificial Christmas tree sales are now in excess of one billion dollars. Balsam Hill is the largest seller of artificial trees, all featuring “stunning realism”. Their website shares testimonials boasting that “things that are tangible, like farm-grown trees” may have lost some of their allure. Fake is more acceptable. In recent polling – even as polling may have lost some credibility in recent times – the US National Christmas Tree Association trade group for tree growers claims that “young adults choose a fresh tree each year at a higher rate than the overall population.”
We’re told that three times more homes will display artificial trees than real trees this year. In Canada, it’s reported we’re even beginning to install artificial trees in provincial parks. But hey, in this age of technology our concept of reality is shifting. It’s all about perception. Ersatz is in. “We live in the social media era,” explains a spokesperson from Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources. “We need to make sure photos posted online of our parks look amazing.”
China is a key player in the plastic tree trend. Most artificial Christmas trees are made from PVC plastic, described as fire retardant but not fire-resistant. Fully 80 per cent of artificial trees worldwide are manufactured in China. China, despite its 1.375 billion people, is not a big market for Christmas trees.
Not surprisingly the concerns long ago voiced by “The Littlest Christmas Tree” story of childhood folklore are as real as ever in its challenge to be noticed.
The bottom line is that neither tree (real or fake) has a significant impact on the environment. If you want to lessen your impact on the environment, don’t drive.
– Jami Warner, American Christmas Tree Association (ACTA)