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Christmas Tree Oh Christmas Tree...

Date: 03-Dec-10

Living Christmas Tree

A Great Tree-bacle

The Christmas tree is the glorious centrepiece of holiday decorations but what impact does this tradition have on the environment and which is the most sustainable choice? There are supporters for both sides of the debate, so lets discuss the pros and cons and see what conclusions we come to.

Plastic Fantastic

The fake plastic tree has come along way since its inception, when believe it or not it was essentially a big green toilet brush made by a toilet brush company! These trees are now realistic representations of the real deal and some even come pre-decorated. But the real beauty is that if you buy a good quality tree it can be used, reused, and used again year after year. Some manufactures estimate you can get 15 years of holiday cheer from one top quality tree. Nevertheless your tree will need to be disposed of eventually and unfortunately most artificial trees are not biodegradable and cannot be recycled, so they will need to be disposed of in a landfill.

Artificial trees also have the added advantage of zero maintenance and they’re allergy free. So if you and you’re family don’t have green thumbs or suffer from allergies that a real tree can bring into the house, then a plastic fantastic alternative might be the best option for you.

The Real Deal

Ahh the smell of fresh pine fills the home. But is chopping down a tree really worth it? Well for many reasons this can be a greener choice. Because it’s not so much about how many uses you can get from your tree but more about what the tree is made of, how you care for it and what you can do with it at the end of it’s life. Most standard artificial Christmas trees are made from petroleum-derived plastic, a non-renewable and polluting resource. However a real tree is a renewable resource when sourced from a sustainably grown plantation and in most cases for every tree that is cut down, one or more will be planted in its place, which helps to sequester carbon.

Once the Christmas season is over and it’s time to put away your tinsel, a real tree can also be recycled into garden mulch. A number of councils offer this service for free in the post Christmas green waste clean up. You can also buy a potted live tree and keep it for a number of seasons before planting it your yard - space permitting of course.

The New Age Tree

So we’ve looked at both sides of the usual story but why not think outside the Christmas square this year. No longer is there only two options to choose from - real fern tree or the plastic fantastic tree. Stores now offer a Santa sack full of other options to consider.  If you want to go for a real option but don’t want to buy a tree or don’t have room to transfer a big tree to the yard, then you can use any type of potted tree from your home or nursery and decorate that for years to come. Or if you’re favouring the fake then try this eco-friendly option by Australian designer Buro North.  The Buro Tree is a work of art and even better it is made from locally grown plantation pine, then crafted in Melbourne with non-toxic linseed and citronella oils. Plus they are flat packed and packaged in recycled card. Or for those creative Christmas souls out there you could also build a paper Christmas tree by drawing a large outline on the wall and decorating it with your own hand drawn creations and cut outs.

The Answer

So the answer is…….there is no correct answer. You need to pick the tree that is the best environmentally friendly option for you and your family.

More Info

Christmas Tree Recycling

It’s best to check with your local council to find out if your local council offers Christmas tree mulching options. For council contact details and other great recycling information head to

Festive Recycling

There are lots of other simple things you can do to have a fun and green festive season – and some of them will even save you time, energy or money. Visit for more info.

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