Considered Christmas Guide: The Christmas tree

How eco-friendly are real Christmas trees? And are artificial trees better? Here’s what you need to know…

Christmas trees are essentially a crop to be harvested. A six-foot tree typically takes about nine years to grow, during which time they provide a habitat for wildlife, consume carbon dioxide and create oxygen – so they are generally carbon positive.

The issues come with the transportation and then disposal. Around six million trees are sold in the UK each year, and if sent to landfill they take years to decompose, releasing methane which is said to have 25 times the potency of carbon dioxide.

The most eco-friendly way to get a Christmas tree is to buy – or rent – a potted one that can replanted year after year, as locally as possible to reduce the carbon footprint. You can also buy organic trees, for example from Swillington Organic Farm, to ensure no pesticides have been used in their cultivation.

The good news is non-potted trees can be recycled into wood chippings, so the best way to buy one is to make sure it comes from as local source as possible and to check your local council’s website to find out how their free recycling service operates.

Some people choose to beautifully decorate existing plants in their home rather than buy a traditional Christmas tree. Another popular idea is to collect branches from the forest and tie them together using twine.

Driftwood Christmas Tree from Not On The High Street

If you’re buying an artificial tree, the general advice is that you need to use it for at least 11 years to offset the oil the plastic is made from, according to the Carbon Trust. You can also buy alternative, more eco-friendly trees made from reclaimed wood, such as Not on The High Street or Etsy.

Main image: Kate Arnell, Eco Boost

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