REAL OR ARTIFICIAL? WHICH CHRISTMAS TREE IS MORE ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY?

REAL OR ARTIFICIAL? WHICH CHRISTMAS TREE IS MORE ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY?

16. 12. 2020

Do you also wonder each year whether you should buy a real tree or again decorate your artificial one? We will help you decide and offer you aspects to consider when choosing your tree. We have looked into the pros and cons of both options. Have you also heard that a real Christmas trees represents a bigger burden on nature than the annual use […]

Do you also wonder each year whether you should buy a real tree or again decorate your artificial one? We will help you decide and offer you aspects to consider when choosing your tree. We have looked into the pros and cons of both options.

Smaller carbon footprint

Have you also heard that a real Christmas trees represents a bigger burden on nature than the annual use of an artificial one? But is it true? According to published research, The Carbon Trust has discovered that the carbon footprint of a real tree is significantly lower than that of an artificial tree. The higher carbon footprint of artificial trees is caused by the energy-intensive production process, while during its growth a real tree absorbs CO2 and releases oxygen. Therefore, if you want to protect nature more, you do not need to give up real trees. But it is important to be aware of the possibility of re-using the trees after the Christmas holidays or to grow them in an environmentally friendly manner.

If you choose an artificial one, you should keep it for at least 10 years

The artificial tree trend has been in Slovakia for several decades. Many of us bought a cheap tree in the past which only vaguely resembled a real one. Some environmental activists say that artificial trees are a more environmentally friendly option thanks to their re-use. However, it is necessary to realize several facts. It is still made of plastic, which we are trying to eliminate. Plastics used for the production of cheaper Christmas trees may also be of a lower quality. But, most importantly, if you already have an artificial Christmas tree, you should be using it for at least 10 years. That is the time period in which the higher carbon footprint of an artificial tree becomes equal to the carbon footprint of a real one.

How to be environmentally neutral?

If nature and our environment matter to you and you do not know what Christmas tree to choose, opt for a more environmentally neutral alternative – a real tree from local producers and growers. The same is true for artificial ones. Trees made for example in China have a much longer journey to your living room. They are often transported in shipping containers known to be harmful to the environment. At the moment you need not worry that by buying a real tree you are contributing to deforestation. Most Christmas trees are grown in specialized tree nurseries. “We in Slovakia also have plantations where Christmas trees are grown.  Your local grower of real Christmas trees who knows how to look after or use the trees also after Christmas is surely a better option,” says Ronald Blaho from ASEKOL SK. Real trees sold in pots which can, when treated correctly, live for many years are also a good option.

What to do with an artificial one?

Our recent surveys have shown that as many as 76% of respondents prefer a more environmentally-friendly option. The rule here is again that if any product is made of plastics, it should serve its purpose for as long as possible. The same is true for Christmas trees. If you have an artificial one, use it for as long as possible and then, when it stops serving its purpose, you may choose a more environmentally-friendly option. Also, you may then consider whether such an older tree could make somebody else happy. You will thus do a good deed as well. And that counts especially during the Christmas period.

A tree is not enough

Waste production increases significantly during the Christmas holidays. Whether it is kitchen waste which may be minimised by preparing a suitable number of meals, or waste connected to presents which may eliminated e.g. by selecting hand-made presents or non-material presents which produce much less waste from packaging materials such as paper or plastics. As a producer responsibility organisation, ASEKOL SK organizes and finances a system of separate waste collection from packaging and non-packaging products, their re-use and recycling. Separation and recycling help minimize the amount of waste processed in incineration plants and deposited on landfills. The more waste we can separate in our households, the less burden we place on our environment. And the best way how not to burden the environment is to prevent waste production, both during Christmas and throughout the year.