Artificial vs Real Christmas Trees

08 Oct , 2015
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.’

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.’

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 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.

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.

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.

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 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.’

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