Can your Christmas tree be sustainable?

Article by Dan McDermott 06 December 2016

Millions of people will be buying their Christmas trees over the next few weekends in the UK, it’s huge trade and an important part of Christmas.

8 million natural Christmas trees will be sold here in the UK with 60 million going across Europe as a whole.  It’s a considerable trade, and households are ready to pay out for it, but what is the environmental cost of your tree?


Image For Chop Your Own Local Xmas Tree Compressed


We have several choices to make when deciding to buy our Christmas tree, with different impacts on the environment.  Take a look through our options here:

Artificial Tree

Favoured by many, they look very realistic and you can keep the same one for a number of years.  However, good ones are often expensive and you need to be sure how many years you will actually get out of your reusable tree.  After you have finished with it they will take hundreds of years to break down, taking up space in landfill sites across the country.  They have to be produced somewhere too, so there is the carbon footprint of the tree’s air miles and the factory it was produced in.

Natural Tree (Shop Bought)

If you have seen the effects of unsustainable logging, where entire forests are cut to the ground and habitats are destroyed you will probably not want your Christmas Tree to have come from this kind of a process.  It is possible to buy a real Christmas tree from a shop which has come from a sustainably grown source.  Check for a quality mark on your trees label and do some homework on that quality mark and what it means to your tree.  Have a look where your tree has been grown too, if it’s outside the UK it will be coming with considerable carbon footprint from the journey it’s taken to your door.

Natural Tree (Self Cut)

There are farms and woodlands where you can buy a tree and cut it down yourself.  This is fun to do with the family and means you know exactly where your tree has grown and how far it travelled to get to your door.  You can also see the effect of it being cut down and if they are being re grown each year.  New trees produce more oxygen than old trees so it’s beneficial to plant new trees each year.  It’s important to remember if this is your preferred method of Christmas tree purchase you should go to an organised sale and have the land owner’s permission.

Christmas Tree Nursery

If you have the space in your garden you can plant a tree yourself.  A Christmas tree will grow a minimum of a foot a year, sometimes a lot more.  If you don’t have enough room then you could try to find an agreeable landowner who does have the space.  You’d need to plant some seeds now and each of the following years.  You will soon be able to go back to your very own Christmas tree nursery each year to select your own tree to cut down and plant your seeds for future years.  This is a fantastic Christmas tradition for your children and grandchildren and absolutely sustainable.

Natural Tree in a Pot

This is great as you gain a beautiful tree for your garden 11 months of the year and a Christmas tree for December.  It is reusable year on year you’ll just need to trim it so it doesn’t get too large, of course the size of the pot it is growing in should help keep it a manageable size.  Unfortunately you can’t dig up a tree grown outside and put it in a pot as although you will get the majority of the root bundle you’ll miss micro fibres and the tree will end up dying, just the same as if you had chopped it down.

Use what you’ve got

If you’ve got an attractive small potted tree or plant indoors then try some fairy lights on that.  This works especially well with a cone bearing tree in the garden.  It might not convince small children, but if it gives you the full Christmas feeling then you’re saving money and trees!

Which Tree?

There are positives and negatives with most of the options.  Whichever one you chose, the important thing is to think about it first and be confident in your reasons for choosing your type of tree.  You can then enjoy it all the way through Christmas!

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