If you choose a real Christmas tree, you choose to bring a living thing into your home. If you want to make your Christmas as kind to the environment as possible, a real Christmas tree is arguably the most eco-friendly option.
A live tree is the most eco-friendly option, because:
∙ It’s plastic-free
∙ It has stress-relieving effects
∙ It allows for forest bathing indoors
∙ It provides natural which provide phytoncides for breathing
∙ You can put it outside for the rest of the year
Your enjoyment of Christmas celebrations may suffer if you know the festivities are at the expense of the environment. In the UK alone, nearly 7 million people go for real trees for Christmas which is a good sign. Even still, many more people buy artificial trees every year.
Should you go for an artificial tree or are real trees more sustainable? Which option is the most eco-friendly? We’ll compare both in order to answer this question, starting with real Christmas trees!
Real trees have a much smaller carbon footprint compared to artificial trees. If you dispose of a six-foot natural Christmas tree without roots, the carbon footprint will be just under 16kg of CO2. This number rises to 40kg of CO2 for a plastic tree of a similar size. However, if the same tree has roots and is disposed of properly, the carbon footprint can be as low as 3.5kg of CO2.
Proper disposal, in this case, means any of the following:
∙ Planting outside
∙ Burning on a bonfire
∙ Chipped by your local Council
The problem with artificial trees is that they do not absorb CO2 whereas a natural tree keeps absorbing CO2 as it grows. And don’t forget that the manufacture of artificial trees also produces fossil fuels.
The carbon footprint of imported trees is also more than locally grown trees, because of the greenhouse gases produced during transport. If you live in the UK, services from local companies like Christmas phs are your best option. The carbon footprint aside, it can be difficult to take care of imported trees because of the different climate where you live.
You also don’t need to worry about natural trees losing their condition if you buy too far in advance. If you buy a live Christmas tree weeks or even months in advance, you can plant it outside, then dig it up and bring it inside during the festive season.
When you bring the real tree indoors, make sure to place it far from any heat source such as a fire or radiator. Such heat sources force the tree to dry quickly. Of course, you also need to observe fire safety at all times.
Your environmental concerns can also be tested after Christmas. It is the time to dispose of the tree and not doing this in the right way can damage your efforts to be eco-friendly.
Burning green wood is not a good idea because this creates far more emissions than old wood. The best way thing to do is to shred the tree and store the wood for at least a year so that it has time to dry. You can then use this wood in your fireplace or barbeque next year.
Many councils have recycling schemes where they collect Christmas trees, usually in the first week of January. They shred the collected trees and generally use the chippings in public parks.
The major problem here is the carbon footprint. A six-foot plastic tree has a much bigger carbon footprint than a natural tree of the same height. On the other hand, there may be an eco-friendly side to artificial trees.
If you take good care of an artificial Christmas tree, have proper storage space, and can use the same tree for at least 10 years, then your tree will have the same carbon footprint as a natural tree you use and throw away the same year.
If your kids are happy with using the same Christmas tree year after year, you are good to go for a high-quality artificial tree. It will save you a lot of money in the long run since a natural tree is usually more expensive, and then multiply the price by 10 if you compare it to an artificial tree you can use for at least 10 years.
If you have a garden or patio, you are good to go for a potted Christmas tree. Nordman and Spruce are the best options for UK residents. Potted trees contribute to the aesthetic appeal outdoors year-round, then you can bring them inside and decorate them for your Christmas celebrations.
However, you will have to compromise on height. The best potted trees are typically four feet tall. Another option is to use a small potted tree alongside a full-size artificial tree. The best part is that potted trees are less expensive than a six-foot natural Christmas tree. On top of that, potted trees are there to serve year after year. However, bear in mind that potted trees require regular care to stay healthy and attractive.