Fake v real Christmas Trees. Which is greener?

Christmas trees

Our trees, our planet, our future.

In recent years the overall sale of real trees has declined in both the UK and US suggesting that perhaps, as environmental awareness increases, people are opting for the more eco-friendly tree. The producers of both will argue a strong case for their businesses but there are a lot of factors to take in to account when comparing them.  Which one is greener …..




cutting down a living tree that sequesters carbon, or buying a plastic one from China that could last 6 or more years but still end up in a landfill?  The answer to this question is not as straight forward as it may seem.

The list of considerations is long. For example, fake trees require no watering or pesticides to grow and last for years. Real trees help the environment whilst living by stopping erosion, reducing deforestation and taking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. Perhaps one way to judge them is by how easy they are to dispose of when no longer needed. The services offered by local councils to recycle real trees varies from one area to the next but in my home town Horsham you can take your real tree (decorations removed) to the Household Waste Recycling Site (in the past referred to as the tip or the dump) at Hopoast. Or place it in the garden waste bin which is then collected by the Council and composted into reclaim soil condition to be sold by the Household Waste Recycling Site.  For more information about all your Christmas waste please look at www.recycleforwestsussex.org/recycling-sites/horsham or this other blog about Christmas waste.

Artificial Christmas trees have taken several forms since they first became popular in the 1880s in Germany. They were encouraged as an alternative to the traditional tannenbaum to avoid deforestation. These days however their needles are made of PVC which is produced using petroleum, petroleum takes millions of years to form. Unfortunately, it isn’t possible to recycle these trees and the PVC is likely to take thousands of years to decompose into a material which we might be able to use again.  If you want an artificial tree then buy a second hand one from a charity shop and give a tree a second life!

Fir Real?

The most eco-friendly way to enjoy a Christmas tree is to buy a live tree with its roots intact.  Find one at your local nursery or farmer’s market.  Dig your hole when you purchase the tree, and only keep it in the house for a week so you don’t wake it up.

Merry Christmas!

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