Like it or not, the festive season is here and what Christmas would be complete without the tree?
But will it be a plastic tree or a real tree that will stand proud in your home this year? We were once led to believe that having a fake tree was somehow more environmentally friendly for the fact that the fake tree is bought and collected once and may be used year after year, rather than every year cutting a fresh tree that stands in the house for a couple of weeks before being discarded, “what a waste”. Luckily it seems that common sense and a better understanding of man’s use of the land are prevailing, and many people are returning to a real Christmas tree this year and every year after.
Fake – In environmental terms, the fake tree has a much larger carbon footprint than the real tree when you consider the fossil fuels burned in the manufacturing process and their transportation, generally from the far east. The plastics from which the fake trees are made also weigh heavily on the environment, from the toxic chemicals used to make them to the effect they will have when they reach the end of their life and are buried in landfill, never to decompose.
Real – Using a real tree each year is actually having less of an environmental impact and, in some ways, can be beneficial to the environment. The unwanted tree decomposes in the most natural way, or can be recycled as mulch or compost. The ground on which the trees are grown for the number of years before they are harvested may be home to wildlife that otherwise would not have existed should the land have been used for an alternative crop. Areas of land used as plantation go some way to offset our carbon footprint, and the shorter transport distances are a huge positive. Real trees aren’t entirely perfect though… As with many harvestable crops, plantation management will often include the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers to ensure optimum size and shaped trees, but this is not to say that low-impact growers cannot be found.
Putting the facts aside. Christmas trees are about sight, smell, touch and tradition, all of which are characterised by trees such as the Nordmann Fir, Norway Spruce and Noble Fir. Bring the feel of Christmas into to your home this year, and support a low-impact and sustainable local industry by buying a freshly cut Manx tree.