BALTIMORE (WJZ) — As Christmas inches closer, the great family debate crops up year after year: which is better, a fake or a real Christmas tree?

Artificial trees rose in popularity as a convenient alternative to traditional festive foliage, but not everyone is convinced that an artificial tree is better than a real fir.

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WJZ talked to Christmas shoppers in Cockeysville to find out what the area thinks.

“Oh, I always do a real tree,” says one customer.

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Another customer said “we have bad allergies in our house so we have a fake tree.”

“It’s like 50/50, you know? You have those people that have always had a cut tree, and they’re not going to divert from having a cut tree,” Valley View Farms owner Tim McQuaid said.

While many are set in their ways, the reality is that both fake and real Christmas trees have their own advantages and disadvantages.

Fake Trees

Advantages: 

  • Fake trees can be set up earlier, without fear of dry needles covering your floor
  • A fake tree doesn’t require the care that a real tree provides. In other words, you don’t have to water a fake tree
  • Fake trees are easy to clean and can be used again next year
  • Fake trees are easier to decorate. They have limbs that bend and the tree is more durable

Disadvantages: 

  • There’s something impersonal about a fake tree. The Charlie Brown Christmas Special illustrates this sentiment by having the small real tree represent authenticity while the fake tree represents a commercialized Christmas
  • A fake tree has a carbon footprint. They are made from plastic, which is non-renewable, and they are not biodegradable. Once disposed of, they will say in a landfill
  • Fake trees are generally more expensive than real trees

Real Trees

Advantages: 

  • The process of going out and picking a Christmas tree at a tree farm is a nostalgic and time-honored tradition that many people get a lot out of.
  • Real trees are biodegradable and won’t end up in a landfill.
  • There’s something authentic about having a tree in your home. The aroma of the tree evokes that holiday feeling in a way fake trees never will.
  • Purchasing a real tree can often help out local business who rely on that money around Christmas time

Disadvantages: 

  • Real trees are messy. They take work to chop down, they shed, and sometimes they can carry small amounts of mold on them
  • Christmas trees require deft upkeep and planning. You need to water them and buy them late enough that they won’t dry out
  • Real trees can be a fire hazard
  • Real trees have to be bought every single year, which, in the long run, adds up to a lot more money than an artificial tree
  • Cutting down real Christmas trees means they aren’t going to be able to release oxygen and take in carbon dioxide. This harms the environment

Which One Is Better?

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So which one is better? It’s mostly comes down to personal needs and preferences. Whatever you choose, it’s important to remember the real reason for the season – family togetherness.

CBS Baltimore Staff