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FOCUS: Real or Fake? The Great


Christmas Tree Debate by Christine Evans of http://papercloth.blogspot.com Every year, I always have a real Christmas tree. I love the smell of them, the excitement of going to choose one (even as a thirty- something) and the battle of getting it to fit in the living room. But is it an eco-friendly option? Should I buy a fake one this year instead of a real one that’s been chopped down in its prime and travelled hundreds of miles just to sit in my house to be covered in baubles for a couple of weeks in December? I decided to investigate which is actually better: real or fake?


often end up in landfill once they’ve reached the end of their useful life.


Artificial trees are made from non-renewable resources, such as petroleum, which cannot be recycled. Many artificial trees are made in places such as China, so they come with high air miles and do not support the local economy. They also


72 | ukhandmade | Winter 2010


However, an artificial tree can last for years if looked after carefully, you don’t need to drive anywhere each year to collect it – just climb up the loft ladder – and it doesn’t need watering or cleaning up after (pine needles do get everywhere, don’t they?). They are also a great relief to those poor souls allergic to the real trees. Nevertheless, according to the Carbon Trust, their carbon footprint is ten times that of a real tree. But if you can keep the fake trees easily for more than 10 years, surely it’s still better? Or is it?


Rachelle Straus, from My Zero Waste, takes up the debate: ‘Real trees are a renewable resource. Eight million real trees are sold every year in the


UK and if bought from a carefully managed farm, you are giving your money to your local economy and supporting an environmentally friendly choice.’ But what happens to the real tree after Christmas? ‘Most councils operate a scheme where your tree will be chipped for wood bark,’ continues Rachelle, ‘An even better option is to buy a tree from a local supplier that can be re-potted.’


I also spoke to Karen Cannard, from The Rubbish Diet. She said: ‘The choice of tree is down to particular circumstances. I quite like the idea of a potted tree that I bring in from the garden each year, but I’ve tried this and have so far not been successful.’ An answer to Karen’s problem could be to rent a tree. A company in Dorset, called Trees for Rent, provides this service because they


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