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What is the environmental impact of Christmas trees? How can you get rid of them?
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What is the environmental impact of Christmas trees? How can you get rid of them?

Christmas Tree O Christmas Tree! How beautiful are thy branches?

The yuletide anthem continues. It seems that humans everywhere love to bring some greenery into their homes and then decorate it with trinkets to celebrate Christmas. Delightful.

But wait! But wait! We are not a group of feckless Bolsonaros chasing the illicit thrill of cutting vital woodlands.

Should we cut down these trees? What effect does it make on the environment? Or should we stop? Or should we just keep going? How can we get rid of Christmas and its indoor decorations?

Fake or real fir

When deciding whether you should be on a nice or naughty Christmas list, the first thing to ask is what kind of tree you have.

Artificial trees are bad. They are not trees, they look a little like them to our basic human senses.

According to the Carbon Trust, a single artificial tree can have a carbon footprint of approximately 40kg. They are made in China and are usually made of metal and plastic. These trees will eventually end up in the landfill. This is a bad thing.

These plastic imposters are not allowed to be associated with the Woodland Trust. Their website states:Most of them are made from non-recyclable, high-carbon plastics. To reduce the environmental impact of a fake tree, you should try to keep it alive for at least 10 years. Some sites suggest that it could take as long as 20 years to replace the same environmental impact as real trees.

This sounds more like a punishment, than a celebration. Fake plastic trees are not recommended unless you have one. In which case, you can make your bed and then you will have to lie in it for at least ten more years.

Real trees are better.

A real tree, which has been chopped down before Christmas but then goes into the landfill, has a carbon footprint 16kg According to the Carbon Trust.

It doesn’t sound very good, but it’s not. However, landfill disposal is the worst-case scenario for Christmas trees. Here it will decompose and release methane which is 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas.

However, properly disposed trees have a very low environmental impact.

The Carbon Trust states that burning a tree, such as a bonfire or in a forest, releases the carbon dioxide it stored up while growing. There is no net increase.

The guidance states that if you replant your tree or have it chipped to spread in the garden, it will reduce your carbon footprint by as much as 80 percent.

Many councils offer tree collections in which the trees will be chipped. This is the best option.

According to the Woodland Trust, the most environmentally-friendly option is to buy a tree with roots. This allows you to plant the tree in the garden, then bring it back to your home next year. Win-win.

It is from where?

If your tree has been cut down and flown in from faraway lands, there is a reason Santa’s bag isn’t bulging.

Locally grown trees are best. The Carbon Trust advises tree-buyers to look for retailers that use slow growing methods and no fertilizer, rather than those that are intensively cultivated. Forest Stewardship Council certification means that minimal fertiliser is used.

Growing Christmas trees takes a lot of effort. B&Q only sells UK-grown trees. The seedlings are usually grown for three years before being big enough to be taken to a nursery. After two years of maturing, the pruning process begins to create the conical shape of the Christmas tree.

The trees can be harvested when they are between 6-10 years old and then sold.

You may also consider other options for your tree

Other than recycling your tree with the council or burning it, there are other options.

  • Start a compost pile
  • Pine needles can enrich your soil
  • You can use the old tree to shelter birds and insects
  • Adopt a Christmas tree!

According to the Soil AssociationA staggering 250 tonnes of Christmas trees are being thrown away each year in the UK. This is equivalent to 250 London buses. Reusing your Christmas tree after Christmas holidays is a great way of reducing waste at home.

In the end, it would be best to cancel Christmas completely. Although this may seem obvious, it is important to remember that Christmas should be avoided every year. Birthdays can also be harmful to the environment, but thankfully there are no trees involved.

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