Artificial vs Real Christmas Trees - Updated for 2019
Big Caveat - we're re-looking at this original Post from October 2015 - we felt it about time to update our views from a more sustainable viewpoint. Enjoy!
Secretary of the association, Harry Brightwell, said: ‘This is a real surprise to me. People really appreciate having a real Christmas tree, not just the experience of having it the house but also the whole event of going out to buy it. Buying a tree as a family creates a lasting memory. For those who have an artificial tree that will probably involve nothing more than climbing up into the loft to get it. No child is going to remember that as anything special.’ - That is a bit harsh, but if that is what Harry said...
Mr Brightwell said: ‘The real tree has a fragrance, each one is individual. There is also research showing that having a tree in the home can lift the mood and make people feel better.’ - No change there - then!
For years, the accepted wisdom for an ecologically sound Christmas has been to go with an artificial tree as they last forever. However, recent reports have shown that fake Christmas trees are rarely kept for longer than six years and that they are made from energy-hungry processes and materials (metal and PVC derivatives) that create toxic by-products such as lead. The artificial trees will be around in a landfill for many years to come, it would take many Christmases for them to rot away. Also, they are now mainly produced in China and Taiwan so they come trailing carbon as well as tinsel. - We have agree with this assessment and suggest the problem has become worst, not better, we frequently see Businesses buy an Artifical Tree for just 1 year, and while it is also true that artificial tree manufacturers are trying to offer more eco-friendly versions of their Trees, this, in fact, encourages the throw-away attitude - leading to Artificial Trees being thrown out more often. Then you need to factor the Travel costs from China or India, compared with Scotland (as with Christmas Forest) or Denmark as with other suppliers.
Real trees are carbon-neutral as they absorb as much carbon dioxide during the seven to ten years they spend growing as they release when they come to the end of their lives in our living rooms. Also they can be either composted (at the nearest recycling centre) or usefully burned. For every real Christmas tree harvested, two to three seedlings are planted in its place. Each hectare of a Christmas tree plantation provides the daily oxygen requirements of 45 people. - There is little change in these facts other than to suggest as Real Christmas Trees become more popular so more land is devoted to producing them. It has also been proven that the CO2 absorption rates of any Forest are far higher than say ordinary crops.
Festive fir trees can come in varying shades of green, and, like all other purchases, if you can buy one grown responsibly and sold locally, all the better. - Christmas Forest only sells responsibly farmed Christmas Trees.
So, what’s the best choice for the environment?
The Carbon Trust says: ‘A real pine or fir tree naturally absorbs CO2 and releases oxygen. The best thing you can do at Christmas is to keep a tree alive and breathing. Disposing of a tree by composting produces CO2 and methane. An artificial tree has a higher carbon footprint than a natural one because of the energy-intensive production processes involved. By far the best option is a potted tree, which, with care, can be replanted after the festive season and re-used year after year.’
The verdict from 2015 remains re-enforced in our opinion, a potted tree can be re-planted and we encourage all our customer to do so. but while the concept of a Cut Christmas Tree vs an Artificial one used to be fairly similar in terms of sustainability, the difference has not actually widened rather than contracted. Artificial Christmas Trees are been thrown away more often and continue to struggle with their manufacture and disposal credentials, while Real Christmas Trees have improved their carbon foot-print with sensibly farming and indeed disposal.
And then there is the fun factor, Real Trees are still a much more adventurous family outing.