Real vs Fake Christmas Trees, What's More Responsible? ‍

Written by
February 22, 2024
5 min read

Here at SKOOT we have been hammering home how bad deforestation is for our environment, and this is true. On a large scale it adds to the rising climate change issue, it causes flooding, desertification and adds to the greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. However, when it comes to christmas trees could it be possible that cutting down real trees is in fact more environmentally friendly?

Short answer- yes!

Real trees are in fact better for the environment and are more responsible. Over half the Christmas trees in UK households are artificial trees which are estimated to have a carbon cost of 40kg per tree (that would take the planting of 6 mangrove trees to) according to the Carbon Trust compared to a real christmas tree which creates 3.5 kg of CO2e.

So we have to reuse our artificial christmas trees 11 times for it to be more carbon efficient than using real trees.

Why are real trees better than artificial ones?

Aside from the lesser carbon cost, there are many other benefits of real trees:-

  1. Real trees are biodegradable so do not add to the landfill issue, as most artificial trees are made of non-recyclable materials.
  2. The broken down Christmas trees can also be used for lumber and fertilisation to help grow next year’s trees.
  3. Artificial trees are typically made of petroleum based plastics, commonly made of polyvinyl chloride which produces greenhouse gasses and pollutes the local environment when created.
  4. Additionally, 85% of the trees are often manufactured in China and then shipped to places such as the UK and the US which adds even more greenhouse gasses to the carbon footprint of the artificial trees.

Whilst they may look pretty, artificial trees are damaging to the beauty of our real world.

Why do Christmas trees help the environment?

The growth of Christmas trees also has a multitude of environmental benefits for the surrounding ecosystems.

  1. The trees provide habitats for birds and mammals as well as aiding the climate crisis, by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen.
  2. Real trees benefit the forest as well as according to the Woodland Trust ten trees are planted for every one that is cut down.
  3. In the UK 6-8 million real christmas trees are sold each year at least one tree is grown for every one cut down making it a truly sustainable process.

However, it cannot be denied real trees do still take their toll on the environment.

Real trees do often end up in landfills where they decompose anaerobically which releases methane gas, a gas which has 25 times more warming power than carbon dioxide. If a christmas tree is left to decompose its carbon footprint jumps from 3.5kg of CO2e to 16 kg of CO2e. Burning your christmas tree in a bonfire is also not particularly sustainable as the dry needles produce a lot of smoke releasing toxins into the atmosphere.

How to make your Christmas tree the most environmentally friendly?

Consider purchasing a potted tree. Potted trees are replanted after the festive season is over and can then be repurposed the following year.

Christmas trees which are alive will continue to absorb carbon dioxide, helping remove greenhouse gasses whilst also replenishing oxygen supply.

If you are not able to replant a christmas tree and give it a new life then you can hire one instead. There are now many businesses within the UK which offer tree rentals, such as London Christmas Tree Rentals which aims to lessen the 7 million trees which end up in the landfill each year. The trees can be put in your home for the festive period and then returned back to farms where they continue to grow and thrive outside until the next year.

If you already have a beautiful but non potted tree up in your home, you can drop them off at the end of the season at recycling centers where they can be turned into chippings instead of ending up in the landfill or being burnt.

To conclude, real trees are more sustainable than artificial trees, and potted christmas trees even more than both.

However, if real trees are not accessible and artificial is the only option, consider buying a good quality one that can be reused year after year so the environmental impact is lessened. The power to make a difference this Christmas is in your hands, a real tree is both beautiful and good for mother nature. Secure your position on the ‘nice’ list this year by making environmentally friendly choices.  

And if none of that is appealing, why not plant mangrove trees with SKOOT Eco, at our dedicated site in Kenya.

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Written by
February 22, 2024
5 min read