Most of us love popping up some decorations around this time of year.  It adds to the festive cheer and creates a warm and cosy atmosphere in our homes and offices.  But what’s the best option in Christmas trees, when it comes to sustainability? 

We thought we’d do a little research on the matter. 

From an environmental point of view, is a real tree better than an artificial tree? 

According to The Carbon Trust, it depends on the specific tree, and the plans for reuse and ultimately disposal. 

The stats show that an artificial tree that is used over many years (7-20 years depending on the size) is better for the environment than buying a new commercially grown tree every year. There are other factors to consider, however, as a 2-metre-high artificial Christmas tree made from plastic has a carbon footprint of around 40kg of Carbon dioxide.  This is considerably higher than a real Christmas Tree (2 metres in height), which, if disposed of into a landfill after Christmas, has a carbon footprint of around 16kg of Carbon dioxide.    

According to an article on  blogger and sustainability expert, Wendy says that real Christmas trees with roots are actually better for the environment if they are disposed of correctly.  That is, they are either planted, burnt on a bonfire or chipped.  After use, the tree has a carbon footprint of around 3.5kg of carbon dioxide.  She adds that we also need to consider that real trees absorb carbon dioxide during photosynthesis.  

When all is said and done, the choice of which tree to buy is a personal one.  For some, a fake tree that is used year after year is the best option and would have little impact on the environment given the fact that it is ‘recycled’ for use each year. These trees may also hold plenty of family memories and traditions and can be stored away neatly somewhere, like up in the attic.  The only footprint on getting that down year after year, would be mum or dads. Buying a real Christmas tree every year could also become quite expensive and ideally needs to be bought from a sustainable local grower.   

If you really have your heart set on a real tree but want it to last longer than one season, why not look for a potted tree? This idea would work best for those who have gardens or patios, as once the festive season is over, you can put it outside until next year.  Care needs to be taken with these little potted souls though, as they need to acclimatise slowly to the hot and cold, so as not to get ‘stage fright’.  

Whether real or artificial is your choice, we hope that it brings hours of joy and laughter into your home. Enjoy the festive season!