Seven million trees are thrown out after Christmas, creating more than 9,000 tonnes of additional waste. That’s about five times the weight of the London Eye!
Chopping trees down and just throwing them away after Christmas obviously isn’t great for the environment so what are the more eco friendly options?
When deciding between real or plastic trees, a real tree each year is still the greener option.
Even though plastic trees are reused many times many of us choose a real Christmas tree over a plastic one.
According to the Forestry Commission, real trees use ten times fewer materials and five times less energy to produce than fake ones.
Real Christmas trees are primarily grown on Christmas tree farms, and aren’t cut down from large, wild forests, like some may think. As the tree grows, it cleans the air, helps the soil, absorbs carbon emissions and provides a habitat for wildlife, all while being grown on land not suitable for other crops. Once a tree is cut down for Christmas, another one to three trees are planted in its place, making for a sustainable, well-managed way to source an environmentally friendly Christmas tree.
Buying a real tree still needs careful consideration. It’s better to buy directly from the Xmas tree farm to avoid unnecessary transport, plastic sleeves around the tree, and to ensure your tree is as fresh as possible.
If you have a tree with its roots still attached, then replanting your Christmas tree is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and help the efforts to plant more trees.
Also, unlike artificial trees, real trees can be composted at the end of its life. Recycled real Christmas trees can be shredded into chippings, which are then used in parks or woodland areas.
Restoring and protecting sustainably managed forests, including Christmas tree farms, is a vital part in addressing climate change, so buying a real tree is a great way to do your bit.
You can also get potted Christmas trees that have been grown in a forest and then placed in a large plant pot.
This option is only really suitable if you have the space to store a tree in your garden year-round and if you’re able and willing to care for it year round, as they can be difficult when potted. Depending on how the trees were grown and potted, the roots could be too damaged to take hold anywhere else. If you were to plant it in your garden to reuse each year, there is a chance it wouldn’t survive. You’ll need to decide whether to plant it in your garden for the majority of the year, or whether to keep it potted.
Did you know you can also Grow your Own Christmas tree from seeds to enjoy Christmas’s for years to come. A variety of seeds are available for different species of Christmas Trees; Norway Spruce, Nordman Fir & Noble Fir as well as more unusual species. The seeds are also inexpensive with some priced from just £1.99
With a majority of UK households choosing an artificial tree either bought new or reused year after year, its important to note that there are environmental impacts at each point of the trees life.
The A.C.T.A, a group representing manufacturers, says the environmental impact is less than real trees if you reuse the artificial tree five or more times. However, many argue that anything made of oil that can’t be recycled can’t possibly be more sustainable than a real tree that absorbs carbon as it grows and is compostable at end of life. Artificial trees are most often made with a combination of PVC and steel and aren’t recyclable at their end of life.
All in all, if you already have an artificial tree, keep using it for as long as possible so you can keep it out of the landfill.
Alternative Christmas trees are hugely popular. They are perfect for small spaces and can be made using recycled objects such as pallet trees.
For a subtle nod to nature without the real tree, collect assorted sized planks of wood, branches and twigs to create a hanging arrangement with your favourite decorations.
Ditch the tree altogether and get creative with your Christmas lights. You could make a light tree in any part of the house as it takes up no floor space. You could have a light display and a real tree in another room bring Christmas feel to any area of the home.
I love the idea of the basket to collect all the gifts!
I hope you’ve been inspired to create an eco friendly Christmas in your home, whatever that means to you. I’d love to see some photos of your creations, makes and ideas so head on over to social media and tag us!