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  1. I contacted the Tree company, and here is the reply.
    Update for Case 15802 – “Ingredients in your trees”

    All of our trees have flame retardants as per US govt regulations. None of our trees are 100% PVC free although the Enchanted White Spruce is 97% PE.

  2. Here is the response I got from Treetime when asking about lead in lights, antimony and % of PE. I wouldn’t recommend them based on this.

    Alex said “I would say that if you have a lot of concerns over this you should avoid all trees and plastic products. Our trees do have flame retardant, too.”

  3. Recently I came across a post by a very reputable, organic skin care company that they are making essential oils from recycled Christmas trees. This sounded like a pretty terrible idea considering the chemicals used on the majority of Christmas trees. I also have followed Tamara Rubin’s lead activism for years, so immediately i thought about all the lead in most people’s Christmas tree lights and ornaments that could make its way into the oil distillation process as well. Sadly, when I posted a question about these concerns, they deleted my comment. That was quite a telling moment that makes me reconsider purchasing future products from them. I wish there was a consumer testing lab where you could send product and get them analyzed without it costing a fortune. Do you know if such a thing exists?

    1. Hello, Elle! Have you tried the other brands listed in the table in the post? Balsam Hill, Treetopia, and Treetime? The other day I thought I saw a PE tree in Hobby Lobby. There may be something in At Home store chain, too.

  4. I got a Balsam Hill Christmas tree a few years ago. I have been very happy with the purchase.
    For me, the smell of a live tree can trigger a migraine. I am interested in safe lights. I think Rohl lights were rated well. Still gathering information on Rohl lights.

    1. Hello Sandy, where did you get your ROHL lights please? All I can find is bathroom fixtures under that name. Thank you.

  5. Hi Irina, I have found this information recently. I just bought an ikea tree that has : Polyethylene, Steel, Polypropylene. It is still in the box. I’m concerned about opening it and keeping it though since I found this article on Polyethylene. What are your thoughts? (The article is on the Naturalpedia.)

    “Polyethylene, one of the most widely produced plastic in the world, is a thermoplastic polymer that has a variable crystalline structure. It is commonly used in cosmetics and personal care products, food packaging materials, and medical devices.

    Polyethylene may cause slight skin irritation, asthma, and even cancer.

    Polyethylene, if inhaled, may cause proximal scleroderma, Raynaud phenomenon, joint involvement, pulmonary manifestation, and esophageal involvement in some people.

    Polyethylene may be toxic to the integumentary system, respiratory system, immune system, skeletal system, and muscular system.”

    1. Hello, Julie! Thank you for reading our post! In a word, there is no safe Christmas tree in absolute terms – even real trees may trigger allergies in some people and pets. As for artificial trees, some materials are “better” than others, e.g., polyethylene would be “better” than polyvinyl chloride (PVC). One of the ways for you to have peace of mind and enjoy Christmas with a tree is to run an air purifier in the area where the tree is set. Check out our post about air purifiers: If you feel like having a personal consultation regarding Christmas trees, air purifiers or any other healthy-living subject, Irina will be happy to help you:

  6. Do you know if Christmas lights made with polyethylene are lead-free? Target sells a lot of Phillips lights that I noticed don’t have PVC, but I can’t figure out if that means they are lead-free or at the very least low-lead (under 100ppm).

      1. Thank you. Where would lead be contained in lights made of polyethylene? I know with PVC lead is a component contained within it, so lead can be on the surface with those lights. Curious about Polyethylene lights though.

  7. I know this is an old post but thought it was important to share that I just called balsam hill (nov 2020) and they said all of their trees now contain antimony trioxide. So sad!

      1. I know, total bummer!! I’m trying to find out now if west elm’s cashmere tree is free of flame retardants, but am getting mixed answers from their customer service. Will keep you posted as it may be interesting for your readers.

        Love your site!!

      2. Wanted to share… I ended up ordering the cashmere tree from West Elm (they assured me no pvc or flame retardants) but it came and clearly has pvc and glitter so it’s going back!

        I found one from home depot that says 100% Pe but says it’s flame resistant… but their customer service says it doesn’t have flame retardants and no prop 65 warning … fingers crossed it’s actually all pe.. may order and let you know what I t

    1. what a shame! Antimony trioxide is a cheap and effective fire retardant, I guess that’s why it’s used most in the artificial Christmas tree industry. It took me two years and a lot of resources to find and test a good fire retardant that was halogen and antimony free. Downside is, its way more expensive, but I never set off on this journey to make any compromises with the peoples health.

      Thanks to Irinas insights I believe more and more people are realizing new ways how they can have a healthy home environment.
      Best wishes and merry Christmas 🎄
      Hayley Burke
      Founder Conscious Christmas Tree

  8. Thank you for the information. Sadly, the more I learn about our options for choosing a Christmas tree, the more I realize that I am dealing with an “inconvenient truth”: This wonderful custom that I have enjoyed since childhood may have some very bad unintended consequences.

  9. Those should be “RoHS compliant” products, European standards. I bought mine years ago at “Environmental Lights”, but they discontinued.

  10. HI. I’m loving this discussion and it’s exactly the reason why i’ve been creating the Conscious Christmas tree for the last almost 4 years. For me, the biggest point after PVC (which is super scary) and the fact that they contain an array of inappropriate chemical additives, is the fact that all current artificial Christmas trees are NOT recyclable. Even if you keep them for 20 years + they will still end up in landfill or in an incinerator. If you think that between 15 and 18 million are sold every year in the USA alone that’s a lot of waste!

    The Conscious Christmas tree will be fully recyclable and won’t contain any PVC or harsh chemicals like halogenated Fire retardants. We believe we’ve found an antimony free, halogen free and organohalogen free fire retardant and are shortly beginning trials! The tree is modular so if a piece breaks you can easily repair the tree. My hope is that this tree will never need to be thrown away! (my website is off line at the moment – it’s getting a long over due revamp!)

    The trees will be made firstly in the UK and I won’t be shipping to the USA yet, unfortunately. However, during the next years we hope to bring proudction to the US to serve the US market. We understand that people are becoming more consicous about products they buy and we have to support that.

    I love your blog and often see your posts on IG. Thank you for all that you do in raising awareness and supporting people on their journey to a healthy non-toxic lifestyle. Best wishes, Hayley

    1. That sounds amazing yes please keep in touch!! I look forward to their US arrival! I wish/ hope more companies in the US would get down with non- toxic living!

    1. Same! Would like a recommendation please!! Anyone? I can’t find a PVC and one that doesn’t have flame retardant. Thanks!

      1. Ikea’s trees are made of polyethylene and polypropylene. I have read they also are free of flame retardants, but have not received confirmation of that from Ikea. They are very sparse trees, though. I would really love one that is fuller looking.

  11. I buy a cut tree and then hose it off really well in the back yard before bringing it inside (after letting it dry for a few hours). Do you think that will remove the pesticides and herbicides? I haven’t found a single bug in my house since I started hosing off my trees before bringing them in! I also buy my trees from stores that don’t store them on parking lots with nasty oil and transmission fluid stains.

    1. It sounds like the right thing to do. I think it removes some pesticides and herbicides off it. Probably not all of them though. Thank you for sharing, Dusan. ~Irina

  12. Another few options would be to buy a living pine tree from a nursery and then if you have no place to plant it after Christmas (you live in an apt or have a smaller yard) you can donate it to a group that plants trees in your area (if you have one). Like here in Fresno we have a group called Tree Fresno who go around planting trees in public parks, school yards, & along streets. Or perhaps a friend with a larger yard would like it? Or another option is to get a living Norfolk Island pine which is a tropical plant (not technically a true pine) that can be grown indoors year round. Starting with a small one is very inexpensive & each year your tree will be a little bit bigger giving you more to decorate. Also, part of the reason your rented trees may have struggled is because true pines need the cold winters & so don’t do well in our warm homes for long. True pines should only be kept indoors for a week (or maybe two) tops.

  13. Do you know If there been any breakthroughs with an “eco friendly tree” since you wrote this article? For the past few years we have had a wooden driftwood tree but it is very small and my 3 little boys would love a “proper” Christmas tree this year.. I just can’t stand the thought of bringing all those chemicals into the house.

    1. I am also interested in updated info on Christmas trees! Had a severe reaction a couple years ago to an artificial tree made with PVC

  14. Isn’t it rather good for the carbon footprint to cut down a living tree? Especially since they will only get planted for the Christmas industry…lots of young trees grow (which are able to absorb more carbon than old trees) get cut down for Christmas and then end in compost. For years I thought I’m doing at least no damage environmentally by buying an organic tree and put in in compost after?

  15. I have a live Christmas tree. It is on the small side, but has pretty needles. I put it up on a stool and drape the bottom so it still looks quite festive and above eye level.

    This is my 4th. Each one gets used 3 Christmases and then planted so the price is about similar to buying a cut one. I keep it inside for just 1 week though, then it goes back outside, preferably in part shade because of how dry and hot it gets in the summer in San Rafael. One died before I could plant it but a bird had made a nest in it, so it was cool that it got to be used in that way. This one is on its third year and has lost its top, so we will have to be creative. It requires some loving care all year and that’s kind of nice too. I have to find someone to plant it at higher altitude, not in the Bay Area. My other trees were planted by a friend in San Leandro.

  16. We have had a real living christmas tree the last couple of years.. It didn’t cost us much to buy and gets planted every year after christmas in our garden and dug out again the next christmas. It is not big but i feel better about having a living tree in the house, I can reuse it every year and it is cheap. May be worth considering over hiring a tree in a pot?

    1. They assured me that they do not spray with any insecticides and the trees are organic. The downside is you may get a few extra bugs in your house, which I personally do not mind. 🙂

  17. Great post! I have always wanted to have a living Christmas tree to bring it inside for the holidays, then place it back outside. I would probably have to put it in a decorated pot and it would probably have to be smaller in size as my husband and I would be the ones bringing it inside.

    For the past couple of years, we have been shopping at a local nursery (1 mile away) to our live Christmas tree. Yes, it does cost more than at a Lowe’s or Home Depot, but they trees always look better, smell better and last longer.

    Our neighborhood picks up the trees and mulches them. I would throw it in our compost pile, but evergreen trees take a lot longer to decompose.

    Maybe next year, I will start a tradition with a smaller living tree.