This is not to say that the heated debate around the environmental friendliness of using real Christmas trees to decorate streets and houses is a specifically Ukrainian feature. The British, who care about environmental issues as much as we do, are also arguing about this. Gardens illustrated examined the pros and cons of each of the options.
According to the publication, there are no unequivocal answers to the question of which Christmas tree is more environmentally friendly. It all depends on the specific Christmas tree you choose, how your Christmas tree is transported, your plans for reusing it, and how you dispose of it.
Real Christmas trees - pros and cons
Most of the Christmas trees we buy are grown in specialized nurseries for growing Christmas trees. If you buy a Christmas tree from official sellers who can show you all the necessary documents, you can be sure that your Christmas tree has been treated like a crop, it has not been cut down from existing forests. Since growing Christmas trees in a nursery is a business, you can also be sure that every tree cut down is replaced with a new seedling.
A Christmas tree can take about 10 years to grow to a height of two meters. Throughout this time, the Christmas tree can serve as a home for wildlife, especially birds, and absorb carbon from the atmosphere, producing oxygen and releasing phytoncides that are beneficial to our health, which is definitely a plus. But even here, if you try, you can find a minus: if Christmas trees are grown on arable land, perhaps they could be used more usefully - for example, for growing food or creating natural forests.
There are also a few more points that cannot be ignored when we talk about the environmental friendliness of natural Christmas trees.
Transporting trees can increase the carbon footprint from your tree, so try to buy something grown as close to you as possible.
The use of fertilizers can affect the carbon footprint of a tree. Ideally, you should buy a tree that grows slowly, with little or no fertilizer.
Plastic mesh. If you buy a Christmas tree from a garden center, keep in mind that on the way to the garden center, it was most likely wrapped in plastic netting and will then be wrapped in plastic again so that you can take it home. again. If you can, don't rotate the tree or use the same net where the tree was brought. .
How to dispose of a Christmas tree responsibly
The way your tree is disposed of is also very important. If you plan to just throw it away, it's not the most environmentally friendly choice. You can also shred the Christmas tree with a chopper. Wood chips can be used as mulch in the garden or added to the compost bin. Burning your Christmas tree in a wood-burning stove or fireplace is a good way to dispose of it. The main thing is not to throw the Christmas tree on the street or in a landfill, where it will decompose and produce methane gas, the greenhouse effect of which is much higher than that of carbon dioxide.
Our tip: A tree grown in a pot or container can be used year after year, making it an environmentally friendly option. You can also rent a Christmas tree on site. If you buy a felled tree, be sure to send it to your local council for recycling, shredding, or burning it in a wood-burning stove.
Artificial Christmas trees - pros and cons
Most artificial Christmas trees are made in China. They are made of plastic, metal and PVC and burn fossil fuels in their production. Then they are sent to us. Because they are made from mixed materials, they can rarely be recycled.
A two-meter artificial Christmas tree made of plastic has a carbon footprint that is 10 times higher than the emissions of a real Christmas tree. It is estimated that an artificial tree will have to be used between 7 and 20 times depending on its weight and different materials so that its environmental impact is lower than that of a real felled tree that is disposed of properly.
If you have an artificial Christmas tree, continue to use it. If you're just thinking about buying an artificial Christmas tree, opt for a classic model so you'll be less tempted to throw it away when it goes out of style. Use your Christmas tree for years to come. Then try to recycle it if possible or pass it on to someone else.
The ideal option is to buy a real Christmas tree grown in a container, which can spend most of the year outdoors, moving around for the holidays every year. But here, too, there are pitfalls, because waiting for a Christmas tree in a container in an apartment is a big question.