Real OR Fake? How Green is your Christmas Tree?

We managed to survive Black Friday unscathed but the next big sustainable question in our house is Christmas tree: Real or Fake? Regardless of aesthetic or tradition we want to make our choice on which is the most environmental friendly.


While chopping down a beautiful tree doesn’t sound ecologically sound, are plastic trees really any better for the planet?


We’ve checked out the green credential (excuse the pun) of each.


Sustainability

REAL: While deforestation is a big topic at the moment Christmas trees are specially grown in Christmas Tree ‘farms’, so it’s not coming from a natural woodland or forest, or contributing to deforestation. Quite the opposite is true, the trees wouldn’t have been planted if it wasn’t for the demand for Christmas trees, and more trees will be planted in the place of the trees cut down, so they're sustainable too.


FAKE: Fake trees are made from plastic and metal, which take a lot of energy and resources to produce. Not forgetting that plastic is made from oil, which contributes to global warming and is not sustainable. Artificial trees are impossible recycle so will eventually end up in landfill.


Winner: Real Tree


Carbon Footprint


REAL: The carbon footprint of a real tree can be negligible or even have a negative carbon footprint, giving back to the planet. To get to this green status you’ll need to ensure a few things: 1. avoid emissions from transporting and importing by getting a locally grown tree 2. Ask your council where you should take your tree to be ‘recycled’, a process of shredding the tree to be used as mulch in parks, woodlands or compost. 3. If you have a garden or are particularly green fingered get a potted tree which you keep all year.


FAKE: The Carbon Trust estimates that an artificial tree has ten times the carbon footprint of a real tree. A combination of a carbon heavy manufacturing process combined with the likelihood that it’s shipped long distances before arriving in the shops all add to the carbon footprint that is the equivalent to about 40kg of greenhouse gas emissions.


Winner: Real Tree


Recyclability


REAL: Most councils will shred Christmas trees to be turned into mulch, which can be used in parks and woodlands. They can also use the mulch to be composted and return all its nutrients back to the soil.


FAKE: As they are pretty much impossible to recycle, fake trees will eventually end up in landfill even if you have used them for 15 years. If you already have an artificial tree, keep using it until it falls apart to save it from landfill for as long as possible.


Winner: Real Tree


Overall Winner: Real Tree


Well there you have it. I thought it was going to be a much closer call but unanimously the real tree has won all our Green Tree categories. Remember to look for locally grown trees and if you already own a fake tree reduce the environmental impact by keeping it for years and years.


Right off we pop to find ourselves a tree…

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Newquay, Cornwall, United Kingdom