Are real or artificial Christmas trees more Eco friendly?

Are real or artificial Christmas tree more eco friendly?

Every year there is a bit of a Christmas Tree debate among those who are trying to filter purchases and habits through an eco filter…Are real or artificial Christmas trees more eco friendly?

Which is more sustainable?
Which should we choose??

Like with…well, everything when trying to be more sustainable there really is no black an white answer.
And much of the result depends the How not just the What.

Artificial Trees

On the face of it, these sound like a good option. And for some people they absolutely are.

  • They stop actual trees from being cut down
  • You can reuse them year on year therefore saving money
  • No bugs lose their homes…

However –

  • Artificial trees use a lot of carbon, more than growing and disposing of a real tree
    – First in their production
    – And then in their transportation,  they are usually made in China.
  • They are made from mixed material mostly plastic and steel
  • They cannot be recycled. So at some point the tree will end up in landfill.
  • You need to use an artificial tree for more than 5 years before it is considered to be a viable eco alternative.

Real Trees

Traditionally bringing some greenery into the home was a way to brighten the darkest days of the year and look after the spirits of the land, long before full blown trees were ever a thing.

  • While Real trees grow, they provide a habitat and shelter for bugs and birds
  • They absorb some CO2
  • They allow you to support local business.
  • Usually Christmas tree farms will plant 1 -3 saplings for every tree that is cut
  • Christmas tree farms are sometimes located in places where it is not possible to grow other crops.
  • After Christmas it can – be left outside for a long time to provide shelter for bugs and birds. (we’ve done this before and it was amazing how long it stayed green!)  And dead wood is a valuable resource for nature
  • It can be made into mulch or woodchips and so have another useful life.
However –
  • When the tree rots it will release CO2
  • The tree should absolutely not go to landfill as then it will create methane – a more powerful greenhouse gas than CO2
  • Growing Christmas Trees can create  a mono-culture crop situation.
  • They’re usually covered in horrid plastic netting to transport them. (however other options are now available and creeping in so keep an eye out)

So yes, it depends on several things.

Other options?

There are a couple of other options.

  • Buy a tree in a pot and bring it in every year until it gets too big.
  • Rent a tree if there is a service near you that offers this. – And more pop up every year. This is a bit more expensive, but your tree is delivered and collected.
    Again you’re supporting local business and your tree gets to keep absorbing carbon and being a source of shelter for wildlife.- And if you want you can have the same tree back year after year (until it gets toooo big). Which I think is rather lovely.

As ever, I believe it’s not just about What you do but How you do it. It’s about how that tree was produced, who it helped support and what will happen to it at end of life.


  • If you are getting/using an artificial tree, use it for as long as possible, 6years minimum.
  • Get real trees from a local source to cut down transport emissions
  • Please do not send real trees to landfill
  • Contact your council for tree recycling options.
  • Rent a tree if there is a service near you that offers this.

Some renting options –
North London –
Cheltenham –
Leics –
Berkshire –

If you have somewhere local to you who offers this service let us know so we can add them to the list for others to find 🙂

And of course, whichever type of tree you choose you can find some gifts with great eco credentials to pop under it right HERE

Merry Christmas x

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