Real or Fake? In Search of Low Impact Christmas Trees

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Real or Fake? In Search of Low Impact Christmas Trees

The weekend is finally here! For many us, this means it’s time for the decorations to come out and for the Christmas tree to go up. It’s the harbinger of the festive season. It may even be the cause of the first Christmas arguments – especially when it comes to decorations! But this year, the biggest debate circling the tree is all about sustainability; Which is better for the planet, real or fake Christmas trees?

More and more of us looking to reduce our carbon footprint, (especially with the help of the Earth Rewards app). This means our planet guides even these seemingly trivial decisions. As you know, we’re real data buffs here at Earth Rewards, so we thought we’d do some digging for you to end the confusion once and for all. 

The impact of real and fake trees

About 2/3 of the impact from an artificial tree is down to the fact that it’s made from plastic. According to The Carbon Trust, the carbon footprint of a 2-meter fake tree is about the same as 40kg of greenhouse gas emissions. This is more than double the footprint of a real tree that ends up in landfill and 10 times more than the real tree that goes to the incinerator! However, there is a big BUT. If you use your artificial tree for more than 10 years, then the environmental impact creeps below the impact of buying a real tree each year for the same period of time.

So, if you already have an artificial tree stored away in the attic, keep using for as many years as possible. If it starts to look old, repair it or cover the empty bits with some well-placed decorations. Once it does come to the end of its life, try and find a way to recycle it. Then switch (if possible) to the lower impact and plastic-free options of real trees. 

The do’s and don’ts of real Christmas trees

Real trees are the greener option. However, (as with everything) there are three major  things you can do to try and reduce the impact even more: 

  1. Buy a tree that has been grown as locally as possible to cut down on the transport-related impacts. For those in the UK, look for trees that are UK grown and that have an FSC certification. This certification ensures that they have been grown and transported in an environmentally friendly way. 
  2. Once Christmas is over, replant it (if it has its roots), take it to your local council recycling point or compost it. You could even get it turned into wood chip (something most local councils now offer). Any of these solutions reduce the carbon impact of the tree by up to 80% as it is going back to its roots – literally.
  3. To reduce the impact of your real tree even further (and this is something for the green-fingered Eartherz out there), why not buy a potted tree or grow your own? This means your tree will last much longer than Christmas. It will become a permanent feature in your home/ garden, but once you remove the decorations, it’s much like any other houseplant.  

The new low impact alternatives

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

To change things up, you may decide to forget the pine/spruce/ fir and go for something completely different. Try decorating the houseplants that are already growing in your home. Alternatively, make your own sustainable tree and turn your collection of books into a tree instead. Not only will this bring a modern twist to the festive decorations in your home, but it will get your creative juice flowing too! 

If you do decide to try either of these, we’d LOVE to see your trees. Please share them with us on our social accounts (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter) with the hashtag #ERZchristmastree or drop us an email at

Happy Decorating! 

P.S For more life hacks on reducing your impact this Christmas, check out our Green Christmas Tips

Give the Gift of Earth Rewards

Sharing is caring this season, so why not help your family and friends reach their green goals in 2020? Get them to download the Earth Rewards app (available on Google Play and App Store) and invite them to join our growing community of Eartherz!

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  1. […] the leftovers from Christmas dinner have finally been finished and there are more needles from your Christmas tree on the floor than the tree itself. So, how can you repurpose or recycle your Christmas tree and get […]

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