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The Big Question this Christmas... Real or Fake?

As the focus on sustainability increases every day, it is difficult to ignore the question surrounding an environmentally friendly Christmas… a real tree or an artificial one? Which is better for the environment? Many will question whether dragging a real spruce or fir into their home each year is more or less eco-conscious than getting a PVC artificial tree out of the box each year.

Of course, it is a less expensive way, to buy an artificial tree and re-use it for several years than spending money on a real one each December, but with the public concern for the environment at a record high, more and more people are willing to spend a little more money year on year if it is beneficial to the environment.

It may or may not be obvious to most, that real Christmas trees are better to buy each year than purchasing a new artificial tree perhaps every two or three years. But how many times do you really need to re-use your artificial tree in order to make it more sustainable than buying a real one each year?

According to the Carbon Trust, the fertilisers, tractors, chainsaws, plastic usage and transport of a two-metre Christmas tree grown in the UK generates approximately 5kg of CO2e, or carbon dioxide equivalent. But how much would an artificial tree generate?

An artificial tree of the same size, made out of plastic and metal and ultimately made in China or the US and then transported across the world to the UK generates up to 40kg of CO2e. Therefore it is not necessarily a win for the real tree. If you manage to re-use your artificial tree for 9 years, you would be reducing your carbon footprint.

The question however doesn’t end there. Choosing the perfect tree each year can be very exciting, yet it is equally important to consider where your tree will end up at the end of the festive period. Filling landfill with old Christmas trees can increase the CO2e generated by up to 15kg, due to the methane released while it decomposes. Instead of leaving your tree out for the bin men this January, try to recycle your tree for another use.

Here are a few ideas you may consider:

  • Phone a local farmer. They may have a wood chipper and will be able to use the chippings around their farm, or you could use one yourself and take it home as a layer of mulch for your flower beds.

  • Donate the trees to local goat charities! Goats love to eat old Christmas trees.

  • Pop it at the end of the garden with bird feeders, old segments of fruit and vegetables to attract the wild birds! They will struggle to find food through the Winter and this will help them survive.

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