The great Christmas tree debate: is real or fake better?

I’ve always bought a real Christmas tree as, for me, the process of choosing exactly the right one is part of the Christmas experience.

Working out how to get it home (and fit the inevitably massive tree into our ‘cozy’ lounge) is also part and parcel of the festive fun.

When I asked the Christmas Organised community on social media, it was around a 50:50 split between those who have a real or fake tree. A few of you even have both!

Those of you who have a fake tree said you made that choice because it’s easier, you’re not sure if a real one would last the whole Christmas period, or you’re worried about fallen needles injuring your pets.

Real tree fans said you preferred the look, feel and smell of a real tree, something I definitely agree with.

But fake trees can look incredibly realistic, they last for years and it’s undeniably convenient to just get them down from the loft each year.

So which is better? Ultimately I think we have to make the right decision for ourselves – the best tree is the one that suits us and our circumstances the best.

However, if you’re on the fence, or are trying to have a ‘greener’ Christmas, you might want to consider your tree’s environmental credentials.

Is cutting Christmas trees bad for the environment?

I used to worry that cutting down all those Christmas trees has a negative impact on the environment – after all, aren’t we told that deforestation can cause climate change?

Although buying a real tree that’s been cut down seems like it could be bad for the planet, I’ve done some research and it’s not nearly as bad as it sounds.

The good news is that the majority of Christmas trees are grown like a crop and aren’t actually cut down from ‘real’ forests. 

And when each specially-grown tree is cut so it can decorate someone’s living room, it’s immediately replaced with another seedling.

The growing trees also absorb carbon dioxide and give off oxygen – both good things for the environment.

It’s also advisable to buy a tree from a grower with Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) accreditation so you know it’s sustainable and ethical.

Even better, if you’re able to buy a tree locally that’s been grown nearby, you’re making an extra green choice by cutting down on unnecessary transportation and travel.

Real tree disposal tips

How you dispose of your real tree makes a big difference to its carbon footprint.

If it ends up in a landfill, your tree can produce methane and carbon dioxide, both of which are bad for the environment.

So what are the alternatives?

Some local authorities will collect real trees after Christmas, shred them and use the chippings in parks and gardens – a much greener way of disposing of them.

You could also consider buying a tree with its roots intact so you can move it outside once the festive season is over – and re-use it year after year!

It’s also worth finding out if there’s a Christmas tree rental scheme in your area. Simply enjoy the tree and return to it to be cared for until next December!

So that’s the eco-lowdown on real trees, now it’s fake trees’ turn…

Keep artificial trees long-term

If you have an artificial tree, the key is to use it for as long as possible – ideally for at least 10 years.

This is because fake Christmas trees are made of PVC, which is a type of plastic.

The manufacturing process has a high carbon footprint and, once made, the trees are often transported to the UK from faraway places, increasing the environmental impact even further.

So, the longer you can keep using an artificial tree the better – especially as PVC is difficult to recycle, and it’s very bad for the environment if it ends up in landfill.

If you need to replace your fake tree at some point, you could consider buying a second hand one so you can keep it out of landfill for a few more years.

And that’s the great big Christmas tree debate! 

I hope you found it useful – have you changed your mind on whether real or fake trees are better? Let me know!

Alex x

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