• Angus Bishop

Christmas Tree Trouble

The most wonderful time of the year has started looking different over the past few years: my family have finally adopted the use of reusable gift bags or recycled wrapping paper to be more eco-friendly. The coal bin has been replaced with a log holder for our home-grown wood, and the paper napkins have disappeared. But one, brightly lit, tinsel covered elephant still sits in the corner of the room.

Every year nearly 100,000 tonnes of greenhouse gasses are released when Christmas trees go into landfill. This seems insane: not only are we essentially poisoning the air our family breathes as a direct result of our festivities, but we are spending on average £66 a year to do so!

The clear alternative is to get people to have a tree in a tub which you bring indoors once a year - genius right? Wrong.

Yes, nearly 90% of the UK have gardens, but only about half of the people who have gardens are gardening. This is not to say that non-gardeners cannot put a Christmas tree outside the back of the house, more like they wouldn’t be as taken with the concept of having to look after it, even if it is low maintenance. Hopefully, it will become more fashionable, and people will grow attached to their reusable trees. However, home-grown trees are not likely to be the saviour of the Christmas tree carbon crisis.

Thankfully, you can now save up to £40 on your tree and not have to water it. Companies such as “love a Christmas tree” now enable you to “rent” a tree. You can even have it delivered and collected from your doorstep!

If you want to go super eco-warrior, you could even adopt a tree which will only cost you £10 a year (unfortunately you only get it after five years, but at year six you will have broken even).

Why should we encourage this as it is not as eco-friendly as growing your own?

Well, the simple fact is that as the rental companies will take better care of the tree than most people will, it is less likely to end up dying or being damaged in the middle of a field with fresh compost and an irrigation system. So on average, it is usually best to let the experts do what they’re good at for a small price.

There are serious debates to come as the disposable tree industry begins to decline, on land usage and retirement schemes for the trees when they get too large. Still, for at least a few years the elephant in the room will be a carbon-neutral one (unless you carry it home in which case it is carbon negative).

Even if it is not close to Christmas, you might want to call your local tree rental company as availability disappears incredibly quickly in the run-up to the holidays. Hope you’ve enjoyed reading, merry May the 26th!

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