Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree, how environmental friendly are you…

Image credit: Leon Brocard via Flickr.

By Katie Morrey

The centrepiece of Christmas decorations in most households will be the Christmas tree. Every year there are whole conversations about whether you have a real or fake tree, and which is best.

But what kind of tree should you buy if you want to be kind to the environment this holiday season?

Most people assume that having a real tree is worse for the environment because you are cutting down something that soaks up carbon from the air. However, artificial trees, designed to be re-useable and less hassle, have been found to be more harmful to the environment than real trees.

The reason for this is because artificial trees are made from PVC (polyvinyl chloride). This is a plastic that is petroleum-derived and is not renewable or recyclable. As well as the environmental problems with production, there are also health problems related with the making of the tree due to the unhealthy emissions made in production. It is estimated that you would need to reuse your artificial Christmas tree for 20 years before the environmental benefits would be reaped of having one.

Apart from the cutting down of the tree’s and sometimes the poor management of the land, real Christmas trees are seen to be better than artificial ones. This is due to them being carbon neutral. Normally if you always replace cut down trees with new trees, as well as ensuring good forest management, you would retain carbon neutrality. On top of that, you would also create a good biodiversity habitat for animals. Environmentally, it is the management of real Christmas trees that causes problems. If, after use, the tree is simply thrown away, then the biodegradable nature of the tree is bypassed and could be environmentally harmful.

In conclusion, if you want to be really environmentally friendly then don’t get a tree at all. There are plenty of new alternatives to trees that are still within the Christmas spirit, but are more environmentally friendly.

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