Ben HaywardDecember 4th
2019

For the lucky ones among us, Christmas is a time for exchanging gifts, enjoying the finer things in life and spending time with the people we care about most.

However, there’s no denying that year on year, Christmas is becoming more and more about unbridled consumption. In fact, statistics show that in the UK alone we create 30% more waste than usual during the festive period - including six million Christmas trees that are simply thrown out. 

So with that in mind, here are our top tips on how to make sure you can enjoy a beautiful Christmas safe in the knowledge it’s having as little negative impact on the environment as possible. 

As I mentioned before, six million Christmas trees are discarded every year,  with WRAP estimating that an eye-watering 160,000 tonnes of real trees are thrown out. Wow.

And when you combine that with the level of intensive production that goes into supplying our demand, you can start to see how all this really isn’t that great for the environment. 

So, what are the options when it comes to choosing the most sustainable Christmas tree?

Real trees

First and foremost, you should try and buy your tree from a local retailer. This will reduce both your and your tree’s carbon footprint as you’ll be cutting down on travel.

But no matter where you get your tree from, there are things you should try and look out for.

As Andy Bond of the Woodland Trust says: “Everyone loves the smell of Christmas trees and decorating them is part of a fun family Christmas! What we do ask people to do though, where possible, is to check their tree supplier before they buy it to see if it is grown sustainably - look out for the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certification.” 

And if you want one that's certified as organic and pesticide-free, get one that's approved by the Soil Association.

Tree rental

That’s right, you don’t even have to buy one! Quite a few garden centres and plant nurseries now offer a Christmas-tree hire service during the festive period. 

In general they’ll even drop off and pick up the tree to save you the hassle and once returned it can carry on growing. Perfect! The only thing to double check is that it's grown sustainably by looking for either the FSC or Soil Association logo - guilt-free Christmas tree!

Grow your own

If you’ve got the space, it could be a good idea to grow your own Christmas tree. Buying a tree with roots means you can pop it in a big pot and use it again next year, reducing its environmental impact and costing you less. 

You might need a hand to move it inside when it gets a bit bigger though… 

Artificial trees

It’s best to try and avoid artificial trees. If you’ve already got one then of course keep on using it for as long as possible, but even though plastic trees can last for years they take an enormous amount of energy to manufacture and are yet more non-biodegradable synthetic waste to dispose of in the future. 

If you really feel like you want to get a fake one, why not try Freegle , Freecycle , eBay  or Gumtree  for a pre-loved one instead? 

Recycling

We’ve got way better at recycling Christmas trees over the last few years in the UK, with most councils now having designated spots for people to leave their tree after Christmas (you can check this on your local council website). Even if they don’t, you can usually take them to your nearest municipal tip/recycling centre.

The trees are then shredded and used as mulch on plants in parks, or on woodland paths, or rotted down and recycled as compost - maybe to grow more Christmas trees in...

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