O Tannenbomb: Merry Dangerous Christmas

Teddy Roosevelt banned Christmas trees from the White House, believing the tradition depleted the nation’s forests. But fake trees, once such a promising contender, have proved toxic as well as tacky. Merry Christmas!





$1.4 billion

$670 million

Dirty Business

Produce oxygen, but require tons of pesticides and herbicides.

85% imported from China; most made with PVC, a toxic plastic. Some contain lead.

That Warm Feeling

Christmas tree fires cause some $16 million in property damage each year. 13% happen in February or later.

Many are flame retardant. If you manage to set one on fire, it will burn very hot and emit toxins such as dioxin.

Christmas in the ER

Each year, about 11,000 people are treated for injuries from hanging ornaments and holiday decorations.

7.5-foot SimpliciTree comes with more than 60 ornaments and 600 lights, and is run by remote control.


Industry says 93% are recycled via community programs.

Come with 5-year warranties, stay in landfills for centuries.


Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2019 demands.