Nothing says Christmas like a fake plastic tree made in a factory on the other side of the earth, right?
The truth is that 85% of all artificial or fake Christmas trees are manufactured in China. The raw materials that are used are byproducts of petroleum, a non-renewable resource, known as polyvinyl chloride (PVC).
In order for the PVC to become pliable, other metals and chemicals are added to the manufacturing process. In countries that don’t have the regulations that the United States does, these additional materials can be dangerous. Artificial trees have been tested and found to have dangerous levels of lead and arsenic.
Dangerous to the Environment
Year after year, as families assemble their artificial trees, the bending of the branches degrades the plastic and particles of dust containing lead and arsenic float in the air. This dust lands on the packages and gifts that wait under the tree for Christmas day. The average life span of an artificial tree is about six years. After that they end up in landfills where it is estimated they will take over 500 years to degrade, making them a burden on the environment for centuries to come, while lead, arsenic and petroleum byproducts are leached into the ground and our water systems.
The chemicals used in artificial trees, especially those manufactured in China, are made up of dangerous dioxins that enter the food chain as the trees break down. These dioxins accumulate in the fatty tissue of humans and animals. The chemicals have been shown to cause cancers, damage immune functions and impair the development of children. Not to mention that the factories that manufacture these artificial trees use fossil fuels, create non-degradable waste, and produce pollution as cargo in shipping lanes in the earth’s oceans.
Think an artificial Christmas tree can’t burn? Think again. The dust that accumulates on an artificial Christmas tree year after year is highly flammable. Pre-lit artificial trees are especially susceptible to this. Each time an artificial tree is put together and then taken apart, the wiring for the lights begins to break down. Risks of sparks and shocks increase each year the tree is used. A small spark can ignite the dust on the artificial tree thus catching surrounding additional flammables on fire. According to UL, a public safety group, pre-lit trees can also have additional dangerous metal and chemicals, including mercury, cadmium and chromium.
An artificial tree burned at the Milton Hershey School in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
Bad for the Economy
Artificial Christmas trees certainly don’t add to the economy of the United States. Large companies in China profit from low wage workers. The raw materials they use in producing the artificial trees are not only dangerous, but are cheap. Thus, a tree that can cost upwards of $300 or more, are only profiting a foreign companies.