Pine or plastic? |

Pine or plastic?

Nicole Frey
Shane Macomber/Vail DailyHome Depot employee Shawn Akin helps Greg Schlossinger load up his Christmas tree in Avon.

AVON- Wearing a puffy red winter jacket and beanie, a middle-aged man circled a stand of plastic trees in Wal-Mart. Frowning, he checked price tags and touched the synthetic leaves. Finally deciding, the man grabbed a box containing pieces of a white Christmas tree with lights and left the store. “The white trees are really popular this year – much more than the green ones,” said Wal-Mart manager Francine Velasquez. “Especially the ones with lights, it just saves a whole step.”In Velasquez’s six years working at Wal-Mart, she said she’s seen plastic trees gaining popularity. “It saves a who lot of work,” Velasquez said. “These are in a box. You just throw it into your trunk, and you don’t have to vacuum all those pine needles … There are a gazillion reasons.”Velasquez said she also attributes the increasing popularity of artificial trees to rising environmentalism. “There’s a lot of people who are into saving the environment,” Velasquez said. “These (plastic) trees are reusable.”

But, an environmental activism Web site, recommends avoiding artificial trees at all costs, calling them “petroleum-based, wasteful products.” Instead, recommends getting a live, replantable tree, which will survive inside for about a week and then need to be planted. For years local columnist Richard Carnes took his family into the forest to chop their own tree, but eventually the allure of convenience won out, and Carnes purchased a synthetic tree.”In less than five minutes, I’ve got the tree up,” he said. And while the Carnes family now lacks a tree chopping outing, Carnes said the Christmas spirit is still alive and well in his household. But Amy Dose is sticking to tradition and to live trees. “I think it’s because my mother was such a purist,” Dose said. She added she just can’t ignore the inviting smell of fresh pine and also wanted to share the pastime with her 5-year-old daughter.”I really enjoy it when the lights are on it,” Dose said.

Nancy Denton’s family also enjoys the smell and ambiance of a live tree, but as the matriarch of the family, Denton made an executive decision, and the Dentons bought their first fake tree this year. “It’s for convenience and price,” Denton said. “Live trees are getting so expensive, so we decided to invest in a nice artificial tree. I don’t really miss (the live tree). It was a lot of work. It looks beautiful in the beginning, but then it starts to sag.”Artificial trees range from $16 to $150 while live trees run from $40 to $250.Despite the higher price range, Laurence Guilmineau, who sells Christmas trees in a lot on U.S. Highway 6, said business has been steady, even climbing slightly, over the last four years. Although Guilmineau recognizes the convenience of an artificial tree, she said she and her family, which includes three daughters, will continue to go all natural. “I think it’s much better to pick your own tree rather than just getting one out of a box,” Guilmineau said. “You can tell if it’s plastic. It’s not the same.”Staff Writer Nicole Frey can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14621, or

Vail, ColoradoRecycle your treeEnvironmentalists are encouraging people to recycle their Christmas trees instead of throwing them away.”Be responsible. Look into it,” said Matt Scherr, executive director of the Eagle Valley Alliance for Sustainability. “If everyone did that, it would be a huge cultural change.”Eagle County will provide recycling containers in unincorporated areas, and individual towns will offer drop-off sites or pick-up services. Ron Rasnic, Eagle County’s solid waste manager, said recycled trees will be shredded and chipped to be used as mulch. A complete list of drop-off sites will appear after Christmas.

Support Local Journalism