Which is more environmentally friendly? A real tree? An artificial one? How about one made from reclaimed wood?
Each year there is debate online, with various sources citing different outcomes, favouring an opposing side of the argument. We’re going to try and address the debate below with the most updated figures provided by the Soil Association for 2022.
Most artificial trees are made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a type of plastic that is very hard to recycle and will most likely end up in landfill. These trees are most commonly made in factories abroad meaning that long distance shipping from places such as China (which produces 80% of artificial trees worldwide), also increases the carbon footprint that these trees can produce.
There are some benefits to buying an artificial tree, they’re generally cheaper than real trees, they can be used year-after-year and they’re easy to assemble and decorate. If you do opt for an artificial tree you can reduce its environmental impact for re-using it for as long as possible.
Real Christmas Tree
The environmental impact of a real Christmas tree depends on how the tree is considered in a full life-cycle perspective. Most trees bought in the UK are grown in this country, meaning that they don’t have to travel very far to get to their final destination. To further minimise the impact of your Christmas tree you can purchase on that is locally grown, the British Christmas Tree Growers Association have a useful tool to help you find a farm near you: www.bctga.co.uk/onlinedirectory.
The way that the tree is eventually disposed of also makes a significant difference to its environmental impact. If a tree ends up on a rubbish heap, it will decompose and release methane into the atmosphere, however if it is responsibly disposed of, the impact will be much less.
Reclaimed Wood Tree
A reclaimed wood tree is a great alternative to a plastic artificial tree. They can be re-used indefinitely and once you’ve finished with them; the wood can be re-used for other purposes or turned into woodchip for animal bedding. Because the timber used has been rescued from landfill, there is a negative carbon impact. We estimate that each tree made from reclaimed wood saves around 35kg of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere. Buying a reclaimed tree from a local business also means that there are also no carbon emissions associated with shipping! Shop our reclaimed wood trees here.
Whichever tree you ultimately decide on; we hope you have a Merry Christmas!