Every family has had the great holiday tree debate. Should you buy a real or artificial tree? Where should you get it? And what should you do with the tree after the holiday season?
Real vs. Artificial Trees
There is nothing like the smell of a real holiday tree, and many people don't feel like it's that time of the year without one. Some parents will tell you that going to a tree farm and choosing a tree with their children is a far better experience than picking up a plastic tree in a box at Wal-Mart; however, other parents may lean the opposite direction.
According to the University of Illinois Extension, real trees are often blamed for house fires, but in reality, they are involved in less than one-tenth of a percent of residential fires—and then only when they're ignited by an eternal source. Real trees are also considered more environmentally friendly, as not only do they decompose naturally and quickly, but growing them can provide a habitat for wildlife. Plus, recycled trees are often used to make barriers to protect the land from soil and sand erosion and are used in ponds to help shelter fish. And one acre of real trees can provide enough oxygen to meet the daily requirements of 18 people.
While an artificial tree typically lasts for around six years in your home, it will spend centuries in a landfill. However, artificial trees don't require any maintenance like real trees do and often come pre-lit, saving you time and effort. They are also a better option for people who are allergic to real trees.
The extension also states that buying a real holiday tree is not only better for the environment and your family's holiday spirit, but also for the local economy. Most artificial trees are imported from China and contain plastics that may never biodegrade as well as toxic metals. According to a report released by the USDA in February of '09, more than 92,000 real Christmas trees were grown and harvested in Missouri in '07, but that number dropped to around 27,000 in '09. And while the state boasted 196 Christmas tree sales sites in '07, there were only 131 by '09.
Where to Get Your Tree
If you love to shop local and help area kids at the same time, consider buying your real Christmas tree at St. Martin's Christmas Tree Lot, located at St. Martin de Porres Church at 615 Dunn Rd. St. Martin's is open Mon. - Fri., 5p.m. - 9p.m. The lost is also open on Sat., 9a.m. - 9p.m., and Sun., noon - 8p.m.
Church volunteers staff the lot, to which all proceeds benefit St. Martin's youth sports programs. St. Martin's trees average $35 - $120, and most are around 12 feet, according to Sean Vomund, the athletic association spokesperson. Vomund said the goal is for the lot to close Dec. 23 with all greenery sold.
While St. Martin's is the only place selling real trees in Hazelwood, artificial trees are available at several places around town.
Dollar General may be the place to go if you are looking for an artificial tree that's easy on your wallet. There are multiple locations throughout Hazelwood including the store at 7751 N. Lindbergh Blvd., which has 32-inch trees starting at $5, 3.5-foot trees starting at $18 and 6 or 7-foot trees starting at just $20.
Cabela's, located at the St. Louis Mills Mall does not sell trees on the sales floor. But, if you go to their web site, you can order pre-lit artificial tree for around $80 and have it shipped to the store free of charge.
If you'd like something a little more unique, consider buying a silk tree. Green Dream Florist, located at 6150 Howdershell Rd., is selling gently used silk holiday trees for half price this month, starting at just $37.50.
Free Tree Recycling in Hazelwood
Fifty-nine percent of real holiday trees are recycled. Thanks to Allied Waste Services, in partnership with the City of Hazelwood, it will be easy and environmentally friendly to dispose of your tree this year if you have Allied's yard waste service. Allied will pick up your holiday tree at no charge during the first two weeks in January.
If you're not signed up for Allied's yard waste service, there is a $2 fee for your tree to be picked up; however, the City of Hazelwood is waiving the fee if you sign up for the waiver. To take advantage of this offer, you must call Allied at 636-947-5959 to schedule an appointment for them to pick up your holiday tree.
The tree must be placed at the curb by 7a.m., on the regular recycling pick-up day during the first two weeks in January. If your holiday tree is taller than 6-feet, you will need to cut it in half with the trunk of the tree facing the street.