Christmas warning: Why you should never buy a real tree again to be ‘kinder to the planet’

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As people become more climate-conscious, they begin to consider the environmental impacts of their festive choices. Particularly, many are not sure about the pros and cons of a real or an artificial Christmas tree.

Researchers have found that real Christmas trees usually have a smaller carbon footprint, and are therefore better for the environment than fake ones.

While cutting down trees as a climate-friendly alternative seems counterintuitive at first, this method works because many trees in the UK have been grown specifically for use at Christmas and have been farmed responsibly.

At these farms, the grower plants new trees for everyone that they chop down.

According to the Woodland Trust, up to 10 trees are planted for every one tree cut down for Christmas.

Furthermore, artificial Christmas trees are often imported from other countries, like China.

Transporting large amounts of goods through ships releases large amounts of greenhouse gases, which further adds to the carbon footprint of fake trees.

However, the downside to buying a real Christmas tree is that at the end of the festive season, they are often thrown away.

This means that these trees end up in landfills, where they produce harmful greenhouse gases like methane and carbon dioxide.

However, if you do already have an artificial Christmas tree, experts say that using it for several years will substantially reduce its climate impact, and may even be better for the environment if you use it for long enough.

Camilla Zerr, a campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: “There are plenty of options for choosing a tree at Christmas, but the most sustainable will depend on whether you already own an artificial one or not.

“If you do, keep using it, because many years of use is what makes it kinder to the planet.

“Save on unnecessary plastic too by reusing the same decorations instead of buying a whole new set each time.

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Ms Zerr also suggested rentable Christmas trees as a popular sustainable option.

She said: “Tree rental is popular among those who like the look of real trees but care about their environmental impact.

“Trees can be borrowed and returned once Christmas is over, replanted to be rented out again the following year.

“Those who have a knack for nurturing healthy plants should consider a potted tree to keep and bring back inside for the festive season year on year.

“The main thing to ensure when buying a real tree is that it has roots, so that it continues to have a life beyond Christmas, through the right care or planting.

“For those who aren’t able to keep theirs for longer, most councils offer a Christmas tree recycling service, which helps to keep them out of landfill.”

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