Are real Christmas trees good for the environment? Find out more as we celebrate the festive season at Wood for Good.
One of the best parts of the festive season is decorating the Christmas tree and many trees in the UK are grown specifically for use at Christmas.
According to The British Christmas Tree Growers Association (BCTGA), between six to eight million real trees are sold annually to UK households. At the same time, many artificial trees are also sold around the country.
Are real Christmas trees good for the environment?
The Carbon Trust has found that real Christmas trees have a smaller carbon footprint than artificial trees.
According to the trust, the carbon footprint for a 2-metre-high real Christmas tree with no roots is 16kg CO2 if it ends up in the landfill. This is compared to around 40kg of CO2 with an artificial Christmas tree.
Potted trees (with roots) can be replanted, allowing the spreading of carbon footprint over many years. At the same time, it can minimise transportation emissions, making them a more sustainable option.
Of course, when considering the environmental benefits, you should also ensure that trees come from sustainably managed sources to ensure the maximum good is done.
Recycling your Christmas tree
When the festive season it is over, it is important to dispose of your tree responsibly.
According to the UK government, the cost of landfilling eight million trees is around £22 million annually. Which is why it is essential to consider how the tree can be used after the festive season.
Some local councils offer a recycling scheme for unwanted real trees. Alternatively, some organisations can also provide a similar service.
Real trees are recyclable and can be shredded into chippings and used in parks or woodland areas. Meanwhile, a potted tree can be replanted, allowing the tree to grow and be reused in the following years.
Imported trees cause transportation emissions, so you could consider sourcing a locally grown tree to help the environment.
The Forestry Commission has a list of Christmas tree sales centres around the country where sustainably grown, local, and eco-friendly Christmas trees can be purchased. The profits are reinvested back into the forestry commission's work on maintaining forests for future generations.
For those located in Scotland, you would go to Caring Christmas Trees. They are part of the Bethany Trust Charity, and every tree sold is grown in Scotland by local growers. Moreover, all profits go to help end homelessness in Scotland.
If you want to go one step further, there are options to rent a Christmas Tree. Tree rental companies can deliver potted trees to your home and collect them at the end of the festive period to be replanted for the following Christmas.
Beyond the environmental, there are other benefits to getting a real tree. The scent of pine or fir trees can bring back positive memories. Scent sends signals to our limbic system, the section of the brain that controls memory and emotion. A study in 2011 showed that positive feelings, which certain fragrances can elicit, have been proven to lower stress levels and improve overall mental outlook.
Another benefit of real trees is their ability to absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen to purify the room they are in, helping you feel awake after a big Christmas dinner!