Whether to avoid allergic reactions, saving money or simply for convenience, trees made of PVC (polyvinyl chloride) are the preferred choice for many consumers when it comes to holiday decorating. But these trees have disadvantages as well.
PVC trees come in a large number of varieties, which for many people makes them preferable to their natural counterparts. Though these plastic trees are available as nearly exact replicas of those trees available at tree farms (fir, pine and cedar are just several examples), they also come in startling neons, patterns, frosted appearances and time-saving pre-lit options.
The average life of a PVC tree is a whopping 20 years, meaning it offers immense financial savings compared to a yearly purchase of a natural evergreen. The amount of care required, meanwhile, is far below what’s necessary for a real tree. No watering or vacuuming of fallen needles is ever needed. Those with problematic allergies exacerbated by natural trees’ mold and terpene will find plastic PVC trees a pleasant alternative.
Because of their artificial nature, PVC trees are often slightly different in appearance to real evergreens, whether in their less natural shapes or their needles viewed close-up. Many people prioritize the smell of a traditional evergreen Christmas tree, which PVC trees cannot offer.
Most significant of all, lead – a known cause of brain damage – has been found in as many as 25 percent of PVC trees. Lead can spread quickly when introduced to a home. Those purchasing PVC trees should take precautions such as implementing a home lead test and washing hands after handling their trees.
Finally, despite some consumers’ instinctual beliefs, artificial trees are largely considered to be the less environmentally friendly choice. Many are imported from overseas, causing large amounts of greenhouse gases to be introduced to the atmosphere. PVC trees are not recyclable, either, unlike their authentic counterparts.
Jeffrey B. Palmer, “Choices Abound for PVC Christmas Trees This Season,” Vinyl News Service
“Artificial Christmas Trees Pose Lead Danger,” KMBC-TV
“Real or Fake Christmas Trees: What’s Better for the Environment?” CBS Boston