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Holiday season is coming up soon and I really want to get a Christmas tree in my home this year. My baby is over 2 years old now and she is starting to understand the concept of Santa, Christmas gifts, trees and lights. Therefore, I wanted her to experience Christmas festivities at home from Christmas trees, lights and decorations. However, buying a Christmas tree is not that simple. As I was researching for a Christmas tree, I realized how toxic a Christmas tree can be. It’s all great providing feeling of Christmas festivities to my baby but am I bringing toxic chemicals to our home? In this post, I share with you how Christmas tree can be toxic and what non toxic Christmas trees are available.
Types Of Christmas Trees
You can get three types of Christmas tree: live tree, artificial tree and Christmas tree alternatives. Let’s take a look!
Live Christmas Tree
Live Christmas tree is typically freshly cut and is available for you to purchase at the stores, tree nursery or tree farms. Trees are cut so it will have to be recycled or disposed after use.
You can also buy potted live Christmas trees. This way, the trees won’t have to be cut. However, if you plan to get a potted tree, it will eventually have to be planted outdoors since it won’t be able to live indoors for a long time. Actually, experts say it won’t be good more than a week indoors. It is also advised to plant a potted tree in the spring because it needs to experience dormancy. Without it, it will eventually die. That means you will have to keep the tree outside and care for it until you plant it around spring time.
There are different types of live Christmas trees such as noble fir, scotch pine, balsam fir, douglas fir, blue spruce, red cedar, etc. Each one has different color, fragrance and branches. Tree should be also selected suitable for your climate of your region.
Artificial Christmas Tree
Artificial Christmas trees are artificial fir or pine manufactured to be used as a Christmas tree. Since artificial tree is not a real tree, you don’t have to worry about recycling, disposing or planting it after use. You can simply store it at your home and use it every time you need it for Christmas. It is also much easier to bring it home from the store since it will be in the box. You will just have to assemble it when you bring it home. Typical artificial Christmas trees are made of PVC plastic. Some artificial Christmas trees are pre-lit so you don’t have to worry about decorating it with lights. You can also choose different types of styles such as fir, pine, spruce, flocked, tinsel, etc.
Christmas Tree Alternatives
If you don’t want to buy a Christmas tree, you can make a Christmas tree creatively. There are tons of creative Christmas tree ideas on internet which you can make yourself. In this way, you won’t have to worry about buying a Christmas tree. Some companies also sell an alternative Christmas tree which you can decorate it with ornaments and lights.
How Christmas Tree Can Be Toxic
Live Christmas Tree
Conventionally grown trees are sprayed with pesticides such as fungicides, insecticides, herbicides until trees are grown for 6-10 years before being cut or sold. Glyphosate is an active ingredient in Roundup, the most popular weedkiller or herbicide. It is classified as probably carcinogenic to humans by World Health Organization (WHO). Several studies have found that ingredients other than glyphosate in Roundup are also toxic to human cells. Also, pesticides such as amitrole, benomyl, captan, carbaryl, captofol, chlordane, chlorothalonil, lindane, methoxychlor, thiram, 2,4-D are linked to cancer and/or birth defects. These toxic chemicals may have been washed away by the rain by the time they are being sold since spray is done in the spring time. However, these trees may still have pesticide residues. Pesticides are environmental problem too since they disrupt our ecosystem and also end up in rivers or our water.
Live Christmas tree can be also toxic to our pets at home. Pine needles can puncture intestine of cats and dogs if ingested and cause liver damage or death. Also, tree water often contains preservatives, pesticides, fertilizers other agents, such as aspirin to keep the tree fresh. It could be harmful to cats and dogs if they drink the water.
Artificial Christmas Tree
Artificial Christmas tree can be harmful because it is made of toxic materials. It is usually made with polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is one of the most widely used synthetic plastic and it contains dangerous chemical additives including phthalates, lead, cadmium, and/or organotins. Vinyl chloride, the chemical used to make PVC, is a known human carcinogen, according to the World Health Organization. PVC is the most toxic plastic and a major source of phthalates which are hormone-disrupting chemicals. These toxic chemicals are released from a product into the air. Then we are exposed to phthalates by breathing in air that contains phthalates or touching/ ingesting the dust contaminated with phthalate particles. Phthalates are especially harmful to young children. Most artificial Christmas trees are made of 100% PVC and some trees have combination of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and polyethylene (PE). In addition, artificial Christmas trees often has flame retardant chemicals. These flame retardant chemicals can be inhaled or ingested by breathing in the air or touching the dust around the tree.
Non Toxic Christmas Trees
Live Christmas Tree
Although a live Christmas tree seems to be a more natural option than an artificial tree, I don’t feel good about cutting down a living tree and bringing it home. If everyone used a living tree for Christmas decorations, that will be a lot of trees that have to be killed. Luckily, you can purchase a Christmas tree potted so trees don’t have to be cut.
Live Christmas tree can also contain pesticides residues. If you have a dog or a toddler like me, you probably wouldn’t want to expose them to toxic pesticides. If you want to go for a live Christmas tree, the most non toxic option would be to get an organic live tree. However, organic trees may be hard to find. According to Oregon State University’s extension service, 99% of Christmas trees use chemicals and only 1% of the country’s Christmas trees crops are organic. You can find some organic trees at below link.
Green Promise – Green promise lists organic Christmas tree farms by state.
Artificial Christmas Tree
If you are going for an artificial tree, definitely avoid PVC material Christmas tree. Some artificial Christmas trees are made of combination of PVC or polyethylene (PE) which makes them better than artificial Christmas trees with 100% PVC material. However, they still contain PVC and will emit toxic chemicals. 100% non-PVC Christmas trees will be the most non toxic option although 100% non-PVC doesn’t mean they are chemical free. At least you can avoid the most toxic material, PVC by choosing other materials such as Polyethylene (PE). Polyethylene (PE) is safer plastic compared to the most dangerous PVC. Also, some trees contain fire retardant chemicals. Therefore, be sure to check if an artificial Christmas tree contains fire retardant chemicals.
Surprisingly, non toxic artificial Christmas tree I have found is from IKEA. IKEA artificial Christmas trees do not use PVC and their plant materials are made of PET plastic, steel, polypropylene. Polypropylene is #5 plastic and it is considered to be relatively safe. PET plastic is again still plastic but safer plastic than PVC. I was also told by IKEA that IKEA artificial Christmas trees do not contain fire retardant chemicals.
IKEA FEJKA Artificial Christmas Tree 7 ft 5 inches – Non Toxic Christmas Tree
IKEA FEJKA Artificial Christmas tree is made of PET plastic, steel and polypropylene. It has no flame retardant chemicals. This tree is 7ft 5 inches.
IKEA FEJKA Artificial Christmas Tree 4 feet 11 inches – Non Toxic Christmas Tree
IKE FEJKA Articifial Christmas Tree is made of PET plastic, steel and polypropylene. It has no flame retardant chemicals. This tree is 4 ft 11 inches.
IKEA FEJKA Artificial Christmas Tree 4 ft 7 inches – – Non Toxic Christmas Tree
IKEA FEJKA Artificial Christmas Tree is made of PET plastic, steel and polypropylene. It has no flame retardant chemicals. This tree is 4 ft 7 inches.
When you shop for an artificial Christmas tree, you will find that it is hard to find an artificial Christmas tree with a 100% non-PVC material. Some Christmas trees will state they are made of PE/PVC material but they don’t say how much PE and PVC are used. For these trees, it is possible that they contain a lot of PVC and very little PE.
Balsam Hill carries Christmas trees with a PE or PE/PVC combination material. However, Balsam Hill told me they use Antinomy Trioxide for all their trees to make their products flame retardant.
Balsam Hill Artificial Christmas Trees
BalsamHill Most Realistic Trees use True Needle which is made of PE.
BalsamHill Realistic Trees use mixture of True Needle (PE) and classic PVC needles.
BalsamHill Stratford Spruce Artificial Christmas Tree is made of 84% PE and 16% PVC.
Balsam Hill Vermont White Spruce Premium Artificial Christmas Tree is made of 80% PE and 20% PVC.
Balsam Hill BH Balsam Fir Artificial Christmas Tree is made of 70% PE and 30% PVC.
All of their trees use antinomy trioxide to make their trees fire resistant.
Christmas Tree Alternatives
If you don’t want to get a live or an artificial Christmas tree, here are some alternative Christmas tree options.
Bettinelli EZ-Tree Alternative Christmas Tree – Non Toxic Christmas Tree
Bettinelli EZ-Tree is made of cardboard box. Decoration is not included. It comes with 6 tree sections, trunk, brass brads and washers, hanging loop, picture hook and nail and red ribbon tree topper. It is made in USA. Bettielli also sells deluxe Ez- Tree version which includes decorations.
Drifting Concepts Driftwood Christmas Tree – Non Toxic Christmas Tree
Drifting Concepts Driftwood Christmas Tree is made from driftwood personally selected for quality from the freshwater shores of Lake Erie. All driftwood has been washed and steam sterilized.
Hohiya Metal Ornament Display Tree – Non Toxic Christmas Tree
Hohiya Metal Ornament Display Tree is a Wrought Iron Christmas tree. It holds 174 ornaments.
The most non toxic Christmas tree would be a potted organic live tree. If you could find an organic live tree and do not mind going through a process of planting the tree after waiting till spring time, this will be the most non toxic option. For me, I don’t have a front yard or a backyard to plant a tree after use so this was not an option for me. I don’t want to get a live Christmas tree that is freshly cut because not only I don’t believe in cutting down live trees but also don’t like the fact that live trees are sprayed with pesticides. You can also rent a cut or potted tree so you don’t have to worry about disposing or planting it after. However, it is not an organic tree so it could have pesticides. Artificial Christmas trees also have reasons to be avoided. Most Christmas trees are made of toxic PVC material and have fire retardant chemicals. However, there are some artificial Christmas trees that are made of safer plastic such as Polyethylene (PE). 100% PVC-free tree without any flame retardant chemicals will be the most non toxic option among artificial Christmas trees. However, it is hard to find them. The best artificial Christmas tree I have found is IKEA FEJKA Christmas tree. Although IKEA trees don’t appear full as PVC trees, it has safer materials than the most artificial trees out there. I have a dog and a young toddlers so I want to avoid live trees with pesticides or PVC artificial trees with fire retardant chemicals. If you don’t want to get both a live or an artificial Christmas tree, you can go for a Christmas tree alternative. You can still hang ornaments and decorate the Christmas tree in that way. Happy Holidays!
If you are looking for non toxic Christmas decorations, check out my post, ‘Non Toxic Christmas Decorations -How to Avoid Decorating Your Home With Toxic Chemicals’.
If you are looking for a holiday gift for a mom, check out my next posting, ‘Non-Toxic Holiday Gift For Mom – Gift Ideas For New Moms And All Moms‘.
If you are looking for a holiday gift for a man, check out my next posting, ‘Non-Toxic Holiday Gift For Dad – Holiday Gift Ideas For Dads.’
If you are looking for a holiday gift for a baby, check out my previous posting, ‘Non-Toxic Holiday Gift Guide – 30 Non-Toxic Gift Ideas For Babies‘.
If you are looking for a holiday gift for a Toddler, please see my next post, ‘Non-Toxic Holiday Gift Guide – Non-Toxic Holiday Gift Ideas For Toddlers.’