Real or fake: which Christmas tree is most sustainable?

This yr Britons will purchase 8m actual timber, however there are different choices that could be higher for the atmosphere
It’s the annual dilemma. Do you purchase a synthetic tree that may give years of service, or do you follow an actual one which can be discarded on 6 January?
This yr British households are anticipated to purchase as many as 8m actual Christmas timber, however with rising concern in regards to the local weather disaster, many customers are questioning if that is the greenest possibility.

“Selecting probably the most sustainable Christmas tree will fluctuate relying on circumstance,” says the Mates of the Earth senior sustainability analyst, Clare Oxborrow. “For many who already personal a synthetic tree, it’s finest to maintain on utilizing that over shopping for a brand new one. By reusing the identical decorations yr on yr, pointless waste can be stored to a minimal.”
Based on the Carbon Belief, a 6.5ft synthetic tree is answerable for about 40kg of greenhouse gasoline emissions – which implies you want to reuse it for about 10 Christmases to maintain its environmental influence decrease than shopping for an actual tree yearly, relying on the supplies used within the pretend tree.
Round two-thirds of a synthetic tree’s carbon footprint is the plastic it’s created from. In case you are eager to purchase one you may additionally look out for one made out of recycled supplies or a pre-owned one, it suggests.
If it’s a actual tree you need, the British Christmas Tree Growers Affiliation (BCTGA) advises you go for one grown close by. Its web site,, has a helpful listing that can assist you discover a firm the place you reside.
“Purchase a tree from a neighborhood grower who has truly grown it on their property,” suggests the BCTGA chairman, Hans Alexandersen. “In the event that they’re grown in some faraway place and are being transported from A to B, you’re placing plenty of mileage on that tree.”
Lately the provision of domestically grown Christmas timber has elevated, making it simpler to keep away from imports. The preferred alternative is the Nordmann fir, which is far admired for its thick, bushy branches and tender needles which are slower to drop than a standard Norway spruce.
Renting a tree has develop into a well-liked different for individuals who care about their environmental influence however want to have an actual one at residence,says Oxborrow. “As soon as returned to the seller after the festive interval, timber are replanted in order that they are often rented out once more subsequent yr,” she says.
Nonetheless, she suggests the inexperienced fingered discover potted choices. “These with a dab hand for gardening could be higher off shopping for a potted tree and taking care of it the entire yr spherical, so it continues to repay properly after its first use.”
Whereas rental providers might be marginally cheaper than shopping for a tree outright, Alexandersen is sceptical of a mannequin that sees them clock up additional miles on the street or perish anyway if they aren’t cared for correctly. If a tree goes to be planted outdoors afterwards it must be evaded warmth sources and keep indoors for not than a fortnight.
His personal firm, Hans Christmas Andersen, which has farms in Surrey and Kent, cuts down a couple of tenth of its 800,000 timber annually, with each felled changed with a brand new tree. “We don’t go right into a forest and minimize timber out of that,” he says. “We’ve planted these timber for reducing and the atmosphere they’re creating for wildlife is superb.” The BCTGA advises customers to attend so long as they will earlier than shopping for what’s a “recent” product.
Tree costs fluctuate across the nation however towards a backdrop of rising residing prices, Alexandersen says buyers ought to anticipate to pay about 5% extra this yr, as growers recoup greater fertiliser, gasoline and labour prices.
“We’ve incurred numerous bills through the yr,” he says. On his farms the value of a 6ft Nordmann fir or Norway spruce has elevated by £5 to £60 and £35 respectively. “With Brexit and the virus, issues have develop into a bit bit tougher for us to get and now we have needed to pay extra and that additionally consists of on the labour facet.”
The way you get rid of an actual tree is definitely extra important than the place it comes from or how you bought it residence. If it results in landfill the influence on the atmosphere is far worse due to the methane launched throughout decomposition.
Most native authorities now supply a group service for actual timber which they shred and use on gardens and parks. If that isn’t an possibility some corporations will come to your home and grind it into mulch for you. In case you have a shredder you are able to do it your self.
Contemporary timber
Prices fluctuate significantly from supplier to supplier. In Kent, Watts Farm advertises a 6ft regionally grown Nordman fir at £48, whereas at Exe Valley Christmas Bushes you’ll pay £50, plus a supply cost if you’d like it delivered to your door. The Christmas Forest, which runs websites round London and does deliveries, is charging £70 for a 6ft tree of the identical sort.
Amongst giant retailers, at Homebase a 6-7ft Nordman fir is being marketed for £36.75, whereas Wilko has the identical sized tree on its web site at £54.
Rented timber
At Primrose Vale Farm Store in Gloucestershire the price of renting a 6ft tree is £45, plus a refundable deposit of £15, for the interval from the primary week of December to 9 January. If you need the identical tree again subsequent yr, the deposit can be held. Christmas on the Hill in north London has offered out of massive timber, however can lease you a 3-footer for £36, plus £4 to lease a watering saucer and a £30 deposit. Once more you’ll be able to have the identical tree again yr after yr – so at some point it ought to attain 6ft.
Synthetic timber
You should purchase a 6ft plastic tree from B&Q for £22, or spend as a lot as £184 in the identical store for one that features 400 LED bulbs with eight gentle settings. Most retailers supply a choice of totally different designs throughout an analogous vary of costs. Keep in mind, if you’re going to use it for the following decade you in all probability desire a traditional inexperienced tree, somewhat than one thing quirky which may develop into dated.
Hilary Osborne