Michael brings the case against his husband, Matthew. For the last several years, the two of them have used an artificial Christmas tree during the holiday season. Matthew prefers live trees and would like to introduce one to their home but Michael is strongly against the idea. Who’s right, who’s wrong?
SUBMITTED BY MICHAEL:
1. “Real Christmas trees constitutes a much more substantial fire risk. So much so that the City of Honolulu, in adopting national fire protection policies, has banned the use of real trees in public places.” More info on that can be found here.
2. A Christmas tree safety flyer, linked from the FEMA webpage.
Michael says, “To the extent that the fire risks of a real tree can be mitigated, it’s by watering them every day (which we won’t be able to do, given that we’ll be out of state). It stands to reason that the importance of watering the tree daily to keep it from drying out similarly applies to aesthetic and housekeeping concerns.”
3. Michael says, "Even if we were able to keep the tree watered, both the tree water and the tree itself would be a danger to our cats," according to Are Christmas Trees Safe For Cats?. Here is the relevant excerpt:
"Live, cut Christmas trees can be deadly for cats. Pine needles can be ingested and puncture intestines, and pine is highly toxic to cats, potentially causing liver damage and death. Additionally, the water that cut trees are placed into is toxic. It usually contains pine resin, preservatives and fire retardants.”
"This is further attested by PetMd":
"There are other dangers to consider with the good ol' Yule tree other than lights and ornaments. The oils produced by fir trees can be irritating to a pet's mouth and stomach, causing excessive vomiting or drooling. The tree needles, meanwhile, may cause gastrointestinal irritation, obstruction and puncture. Additionally, the water used to nourish Christmas trees can be noxious. Bacteria, molds, and fertilizers can cause your pet to become extremely sick with only a few laps.”
"Both of our cats are extremely fascinated with water and like to play with it. I’ve attached a video of them proving as much. It’s worth noting that the waterer pictured is one that we settled on after they splashed about in a more open one and knocked over multiple times one that stores water in a tank above."
4. "Artificial trees are actually more traditional than live ones," according to this article:
"In fact, the first written records of Christmas trees being used in what would become the United States date back to the 1740s. The children of German settlers in Pennsylvania decorated wooden pyramids with evergreen branches and affixed candles to the branches. The first Christmas trees in America were, in fact, artificial.”
5. "Artificial trees are more environmentally friendly, or, at least are not significantly worse for the environment." More here:
“If the artificial tree is kept more than 4 years, the Global Warming Potential associated with the artificial tree is less than a natural tree purchased every year for more than 4 years. The impact of the tree life cycle, for all scenarios, is less than 0.1% of a person’s annual carbon footprint and therefore is negligible within the context of the average American’s lifestyle.”
6. "The City of Boston gives us two opportunities to dispose of a real tree: January 3rd and January 10th." -- Boston's Trash Day Schedule.
SUBMITTED BY MATTHEW:
1. “The majority of real Christmas trees come from managed plantations, supporting hundreds of thousands of acres of trees being continuously planted, cut down, and replenished, on farmland that may not support other forms of agriculture.” 2012 Census of Agriculture data on Cut Christmas Trees: 2012 and 2007
2. “Real Christmas trees can be recycled after they are used, and as such can be given a new life, in a variety of ways, either as mulch, erosion barriers, or even to recreate sand dunes, as in NJ, our home state, after Hurricane Sandy. Boston also runs a recycling program for the first two weeks of January.”
Info on tree recycling can be found here and here.
3. “Further, it seems that a real tree may be necessary for the celebration of Christmas.
Judge John Hodgman has previously ruled on this matter: ‘Well, I hate to break it to you Peter, but the thirty Christmases you’ve so called celebrated, while using a fake tree, do not count as Christmas, in fact you have never celebrated Christmas, because a fake tree just will not cut it. The whole point is to bring nature into your home particularly an evergreen… and you need to have that actual tree there, staring at you, throughout the dark winter period, to give you hope to go on, and then you have to slowly kill it to give you strength to move on into the next year.’” (Judge John HodgmanEpisode 8 To Tree or Not to Tree)
Thank you to Rob Calabrese for suggesting this week's title! To suggest a title for a future episode, like Judge John Hodgman on Facebook. We regularly put a call for submissions.