Sustainable Christmas Trees And How To Find Them
There is plenty of confusion about whether Christmas trees can be sustainable, and which type is the most environmentally friendly — so here are your questions, answered.
There are things that are certain to get you into the Christmas cheer: Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas, your local high street light switch-on, or maybe something as simple as supermarkets starting to sell mince pies. But the top of the list has got to be a beautifully decorated Christmas tree; a universal symbol for Christmas, it is truly one of the best things about the holiday season. So what can we do to make this tradition more eco-friendly?
Can Christmas trees be sustainable?
There is lots of confusion over whether plastic or real trees are more sustainable. Plastic trees are not very environmentally friendly unless you plan to use it for 12-15 years; only at this point will its carbon footprint have matched buying a real tree each of those years. This is still with the assumption that it will be recycled after rather than ending up in a landfill, which is unlikely since most trees are made with PVC, a notoriously difficult plastic to recycle.
So, given that a 6.5ft artificial tree has a carbon footprint of around 40kg of greenhouse gas emissions versus 2.5g of emissions from a natural tree, it is more eco-friendly to buy a real tree than a fake one. In fact, buying a real tree can actually have a positive impact on the environment. The demand for Christmas trees means that there are more trees being planted than cut.
Things to consider when buying a real Christmas tree
Although buying a real tree is more environmentally-friendly than an artificial tree, there are still several things to consider.
Try to find a local tree farm
The Christmas tree market continues to grow as more people are interested in buying real trees. An easy way to cut emissions is to pick up a tree locally, rather than have it imported into the UK from elsewhere. This also means they will be fresher for longer.
Make sure your tree comes from a nursery that sells them rather than those cut from natural forests
Buying your tree from a farm rather than a place that sells trees cut from unspoilt forests keeps the process more sustainable.
Consider chopping your own Christmas tree
The National Trust offers the chance to cut your own tree, as do lots of farms around the country. This makes for a lovely opportunity to spend the day with friends or family while selecting your tree. This is also often cheaper than buying a real tree as you don’t pay for shipping and transportation costs.
Find out more about its recycling process
Most farms have a collection point service for trees after the holidays are over, so it is worth finding out whether you can return your tree to be recycled come January. Christmas tree farms can turn this into something climate positive, as they can transplant trees or recycle them to be used for chipping.
Buy and grow your own tree
You can buy potted Christmas trees so that by the years’ end you will have a respectable tree to decorate with all of your favourite decorations. This way, you could, in theory, use it every year — provided you look after it well.
By Toni Olukiran
Toni is one of our lovely Content Marketing Assistants, and when she’s not writing posts about everything from Jamaican cooking to vegan champagne, she’s making a Spotify playlist (she was at 200, at her last count) or playing tennis in the park.