Buying the perfect Christmas tree

We all want to do our bit for the environment, but how does that extend to buying the Xmas tree?
17 December 2021


xmas tree


Chris has owned the same plastic tree for the past 20 years. Is that better for the environment than buying a real one each year? There's only one way to find out! Chris went in search of the real deal, a traditional pine Christmas tree to compare with his Xmas relic. Thank goodness he bumped into George to make it a more even debate...

Chris - [decorating]

Chris - "I did actually end up buying George's Christmas tree - he's dropping it off this weekend - because it was nice, and I've never, in all my adult life actually ever had a real one, so I felt the family deserved a treat.

That means I'll own one of about 7 million real Christmas trees cut in the UK every year, most of them grown here. And there's the wrinkle with fake trees: because the majority of those have travelled all the way from China to get here, so they arrive with a much bigger carbon footprint than my locally grown one.

There's also the recycling question; at some point my plastic tree is going to give up the ghost and end up in the bin; there'll therefore be a landfill cost, or even if the material is reused there will still be a carbon cost to that.

My real tree can go, as George said, to the Young Farmers, who turn them into wood chippings and line paths with them; and as they break down they release back into the atmosphere only the CO2 they took up to grow in the first place.

According to the carbon trust a 7ft fake tree, is responsible for about 40kg of greenhouse gas emissions, so you need to use it for at least 10 christmases to be environmentally better off than buying a real one.

BUT - the data from the retail market suggests that my 20 year old plastic tree is a real outlier - most fake trees get used only an average of 4 times before we bin them.

So, the bottom line, it looks like George is right to be a real tree man: unless you hang onto your fake tree for at least a decade, both the planet, your living room and your carbon footprint will all benefit from a real Christmas Tree to celebrate the festive season! Merry Christmas!"


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