Did you know that one real tree that ends up as landfill produces 16kg of Co2? A huge carbon footprint for a decorative tree that we only appreciate for an average of ten days.
It might be easy to think that artificial trees are the way forward, but according to experts, the classic artificial trees might in fact be worse for the environment than real trees. The carbon trust estimate that a typical two meter artificial tree has a carbon footprint of around 40kg of CO2 – nearly double of what is produced by using a real tree. Most classic artificial trees are made from PVC film, a plastic that is produced using fossil fuels and involves a process that emits very high levels of greenhouse gases. Seemingly then, the typical artificial trees you might find around this time of year don’t provide the perfect green alternative after all.
So what now? If you still desperately want a tree but don’t want to kill the planet, the key is to reconsider where you source your tree from and how you dispose of it. Most artificial trees are made in China which creates huge transportation and importation emissions.
If you decide a real tree is right for you, there are certain things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint. First, make sure it’s locally cut – the nearer the better as it will mean fewer miles in transit. Then there’s disposing of your tree, which can be done in a more sustainable way.
You could also consider the fairly new concept of “potted” trees. These slightly smaller Christmas trees come in pots that can be re-planted, nurtured throughout the year and then bought inside again for next Christmas. Alternatively, if the idea of looking after a tree all year round doesn’t appeal, or if you don’t have a garden space, there are plenty of local “growing areas” in most communities that would happily take the tree off your hands.
It goes without saying, neither artificial or real cut trees offer the most sustainable route, both having some negative impact on the environment. There are also smaller, more guilt-free options this Christmas you can search for. Some are handmade or with a more modern flare.