why i decided to keep it real

It was only four years ago that I found myself assembling my first faux Christmas tree. I grew up in Idaho where real trees were abundant and to use anything else was unheard of in our family of nature-loving artists. As I bent the pre-lit wired branches, I noted my craving for the familiar scent of evergreen. However, as a crafting and lifestyle blogger, I found this new version of my old favorite easier to justify in its availability long in advance. Where would I be able to find a real holiday tree in the middle of October?

It was when the Christmas Tree Promotion Board reached out to me that I took pause. I do love challenges, and they proposed two to me — to visit a real tree farm and to make a commitment to only using a real tree for the upcoming Christmas holiday. I accepted the challenge.

My trip to KLM Tree Farm in Washington, just North of Portland, Oregon was a delightful morning. I was met by Mark Steelhammer and his son Kyle who have been growing and selling Christmas trees since 1979. It was a family farm and that alone warmed my heart. Mark invited me to hop into his truck as he drove me around, introducing me to the trees. I found out that the Pacific Northwest farm specialized in Douglas and Noble Fir trees along with Grand and Fraser Firs. These trees are perfect for the long growing season and the rainy climate on the farm. Our conversation about real-versus-artificial trees grew into a notable list…

  • Every step of a Christmas tree’s existence — from the beginning to the end of its life — is good for the environment.
  • Growing trees supports clean air and a lovely landscape.
  • Natural Christmas trees are biodegradable — they can be recycled or reused for mulch.
  • For every real Christmas tree harvested, one new tree is planted.
  • Buying real Christmas trees provides business for local nurseries and farmers. 
  • Real Christmas Trees are a real crop — farmer-planted and hand-harvested, specifically for people to enjoy.
  • 100% of real Christmas trees sold in the U.S. are grown in North America (naturally).
  • Selecting a real Christmas tree makes memories for families and friends.
  • The hunt for a Christmas tree creates an experience that can’t be manufactured.
  • Everything from the scent to the search is an experience no artificial tree can replace.

In contrast, I took notes on why I no longer want to support the artificial tree industry.

  • Artificial trees are manufactured. Real trees are grown.
  • When compared on an annual basis, the artificial tree (which has a life span of six years) has three times as many impacts on climate change and resource depletion than the natural tree. [1]
  • Most artificial Christmas trees are thrown away seven to ten years after they’re purchased and will then sit in a landfill for centuries to come.

The part of our conversation that really stuck with me was when Mark talked about their trees being a family business. Real Christmas trees start at family-owned nurseries and are then sold to family-owned farms. They are then purchased to grace a family’s home for the holiday season. This alone makes me want to keep it real!

As we’ve begun our holiday crafting here at the Lia Griffith studio, we purchased a small potted real tree to use for the time being. Eventually, we will end up planting this tiny tree, returning it to the earth. We’re planning a trip for later this month in which we’ll visit the KLM Tree Farm to pick out our official holiday tree. We’re looking forward to this fun team-building activity and can’t wait to visit the Steelhammer family farm once again!

There is a real Christmas tree available for you no matter where you like to shop. Make a visit to your local farms, neighborhood stores, seasonal lots or even online!

A real Christmas tree is a choice you can be proud of. For more information about real Christmas trees, visit www.Facebook.com/ItsChristmasKeepItReal.

Join Us!

Join us as we craft our way into the holiday season here at Lia Griffith! Follow us on InstagramFacebook and Twitter, and sign up for a membership today. Remember to use #MadeWithLia when sharing photos of your latest projects — we love seeing what you’re up to. Happy Holidays! And don’t forget to keep it real! ~ Lia & Team

All content and opinions expressed in this article are Lia Griffith’s. All photos courtesy of the Christmas Tree Promotion Board. 

[1] Comparative Life Cycle Assessment of an Artificial Christmas Tree and a Natural Christmas Tree; Ellipsos, Montreal, Quebec, 2009; pages 6 & 8.

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