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Carbon footprint of a Christmas Tree

We love that our customers are thinking about the impact of Christmas on the planet. Many ask us about the environmental impact of buying a real Christmas Tree. Of course, it is more than just carbon – Christmas Tree Farms are able to provide rich habitats for native wildlife. Here are some facts from The Carbon Trust:

carbon footprint or a christmas tree

Carbon costs of real v artificial trees

• A real Christmas Tree has a “much lower” carbon footprint than an artificial tree. When a 2m Christmas tree is disposed of in landfill, it generates a carbon footprint of around 16kg of CO2. If the same sized tree is chipped for mulch, it will have a carbon footprint of around 3.5kg of CO2. That’s an impressive 4.5 times less carbon footprint.

• In contrast, a 2m artificial Christmas tree has a carbon footprint of around 40kg of CO2. This is over 10 times greater than that of a real tree, disposed of properly. An artificial tree would need to be used for at least 10 years for its environmental impact to be lower than that of real trees that are burnt. And that’s assuming it lasts that long.

• Around two thirds of an artificial tree’s carbon footprint is from the plastic it is made from. And around a quarter is from the emissions produced when the tree is manufactured.

Environmental advantages of a real tree

• As the Soil Association highlights, a real tree provides a habitat for wildlife, captures carbon from the atmosphere and releases oxygen during the 8-10 years it takes to grow.

• Christmas trees are grown as a horticultural crop. When a Christmas tree is cut down, it is replaced by a seedling, with up to 10 trees being planted for every average size tree that is grown.

• Unlike artificial trees, real trees can also be recycled. Many BCTGA members (including ourselves) and local councils across the country offer Christmas tree collection services. Used Christmas trees are picked up and recycled. Here at Frenchay Christmas Tree Farm, we mulch up all trees that are returned to us to spread on our fields. This helps return carbon and nutrients to the soil.

• Buying a real Christmas Tree from a local farm like ours helps reduce road-miles.

If you want to read more about the environmental impact of real Christmas trees, here’s a really interesting article from BBC Future Planet: https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20221213-why-christmas-trees-may-be-good-for-the-environment

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