The ugly truth behind your plastic Christmas tree might make you swap it for a real one this year
When it comes to Christmas trees, people tend to fall into two very distinct categories.
On one side are the ones who cannot stand mopping up needles for weeks and love the easy convenience of getting their plastic tree out of the attic year after year, all perfectly shaped and ready to decorate.
And then there is the rest of us. Who cannot celebrate Christmas without an actual real tree in our living room. Who tolerate the dust and pine needles for that real Christmas tree smell, and who get a thrill out of every year trying to find the perfect one.
But feelings and traditions aside, whether or not to buy a real tree or invest in a plastic one often comes down to things like money (after all, a real tree will cost you on average €40 every year, while a fake one, while being more expensive to purchase initially, will no doubt save you money in the long run) and environmental concerns.
What might come as a surprise to many, who would have thought that chopping down real trees cannot be all that great for Planet Earth, is that when it comes to eco-friendly options, an actual real tree is a better choice. How I hear you ask? Well, according to Popsugar, even though natural trees require a great deal of water and soil to grow, overall, artificial trees take about eight times more energy to create.
Here is a little breakdown of why it, in fact, makes all sorts of sense (unless you are very allergic, of course) to invest in a real tree this year:
Artificial trees are:
– usually manufactured overseas in countries like China where pollution-creating coal energy is prevalent.
– often made of PVC, a petroleum-derived plastic.
– made in a way so that they are not biodegradable. Meaning, even if ou use the tree for a decade, it will spend the next several decades sitting in a landfill.
– shipped around the world on fuel-guzzling ships.
Now, guys, that's one massive carbon footprint, no?
Real trees, however, have this to boast:
– Every one acre of a Christmas tree farm produces enough oxygen to sustain 18 people for a day.
– Christmas tree farms are a natural wildlife habitat, helping to sustain living creatures.
– As a crop, Christmas trees often help with soil stability because they are planted in dirt where other crops can't grow.
– Very often, two to three seedlings are planted for every Christmas tree cut down, creating a net gain of forest.
– One farmed tree absorbs more than one tonne of CO2 during its lifetime.
– Natural trees will biodegrade, of course. Or can even be used to heat your house as a log-fire once the decorations come off.
According to the Carbon Trust in the UK, it is the manufacture of the plastic, from oil, that creates most – around two-thirds – of their carbon emissions. A further quarter is created by the industrial emissions produced when the tree itself is made. Their carbon footprint is boosted by the trees typically being shipped by container from China before arriving in the shops.
Environmental group Friends of the Earth, on the other hand, is advising consumers who have fake trees to keep using them for as long as possible (and today’s versions will last for years) but to look into more environmentally friendly options when it comes to a replacement.
Now, guys, we are eager to know; are you team real tree or not? Let us know in the comments or tweet us at @Herfamilydotie