- Lead is a flame retardant
- Lead makes the plastic around the wires (lights, power cords, extension cords) flexible
- Lead helps the plastic retain its color better
Unfortunately lead is toxic and can cause severe mental retardation. With all of the recent news on lead in kids toys, it's really brought to light the toxicity issue in general. People are paying a lot more attention to where their toys come from. Sadly everyone is mostly focused on just lead, because there are a lot more chemicals to be nervous about. But at least it's a start!
We have an artificial Christmas tree. I thought it was the better choice several years ago - not cutting down a real tree. We tried a living potted tree about 7 years ago and that was a pain. We potted it in our back yard, but what a mess... It was SO heavy and there was mud everywhere. Cut trees are beautiful, but why aren't there any bugs on them? Why are they so perfect? Because they're heavily sprayed with pesticides and fungacides. So what's the best solution? I don't really know.
There is one "lead-free" artificial tree making company that resides here in the US called USChristmasTree.com. They absolutely guarantee their tree won't contain lead. Unfortunately, there isn't a solution for the lights. I emailed the company and their lights to contain lead. They do not sell pre-lit trees because people want to avoid the lead lights, but they package them separately so people can choose to use them or not.
Another company called Living Christmas Tree has come up with a fantastic idea - renting living, potted Christmas trees. This is definitely an option I'd choose and it's not any more expensive than buying a cut tree each year. Unfortunately I don't know of a company doing this closer to my home. This company is in Oregon and does offer shipping to other states, but it is significantly more expensive.
Now the real quest? Find lead-free Christmas lights. If anyone has any leads on this, please share. :)