As this time of year rolls around, my socials are filled with the age old question – is it better to have a real Christmas tree, or an artificial Christmas tree?
I have always grown up with an artificial tree. My parents had a wonderful tree that they used every year for nearly a decade and that stuck with me – when I moved into my own home, I bought an artificial tree. I always thought that artificial would be better for the environment and the greener choice.. But is it? I read recently that for an artificial Christmas tree to ‘give back’ after its production process, you need to use the same tree for around a decade.
Artificial trees come in so many shapes, colours and sizes these days people often buy a new one each year so it matches their home decor – gone are the more traditional days of rescuing the same tree and decorations year in year out. That used to be part of the thrill, fetching the tree down from the loft and looking back on all the Christmas baubles I’d made throughout the years in school.
When I used to think of ‘real’ Christmas trees, I envisioned burly lumberjacks hacking at pine forests and dragging their haul back with chains, but.. No. There are a variety of options for Christmas trees these days, and they’re much more sustainable than I ever thought. Real Christmas trees don’t have a manufacturing process – they’re completely recyclable and many councils offer a free mulching service if you can’t access the tools yourself.
Forestry England are backing the sustainable campaign with a website that shows you sustainable Christmas trees close to you. These are often on sites that have activities for children and some even have their own grotto – so a day can be made of visiting and picking out the family tree. For some families this is a long established tradition!
The thought of chopping down trees that form a habitat for wildlife used to weigh on me, but that isn’t entirely true. In the UK at least, Christmas trees aren’t cut from any protected forested areas – they’re grown, as any other crop would be grown. Harvesting happens in winter, so it minimises any disturbance to wildlife that may have inhabited the trees during the summer season. Farms sell trees and wreathes, and purchasing from a farmer local to you supports them as opposed to buying an artificial tree from a major supermarket. As they’re crops, they’re replaced each year and a new crop is grown. There will be none of those burly lumberjacks taking away half of the forest!
There are many options for people wanting a real tree, without the permanent repercussions of the chopped tree. Christmas trees can be rented – these are planted with the root ball so they can be replanted afterwards – and you can buy your own potted tree to replant in your garden after the festive season.
What will you be choosing this festive season?