What happens to our Christmas trees once we’re finished with them?

by Olivia Hancock

We all love a real tree at Christmas, we love the way it smells, the way it looks. Even the fun of choosing a tree with people you love. But where does it go when the fun is over?

Every year after Christmas ends and we all begin to clear out our decorations, the streets are lined with tree after tree, needles going dull and the smell fading away. Once Christmas has passed, there’s no use for a Christmas tree that’s already dead and can’t be used to decorate our homes anymore. This is a massive issue for a multitude of reasons. First of all, the fact that we’re cutting down around 8 million trees each year in the UK alone causes massive amounts of carbon emissions, the global carbon emissions around Christmas time increase by 6% above the average, and the cutting down of trees plays a significant role in this increase. Secondly, the decomposition of the trees after use causes large amounts of carbon to be emitted, and even then, it’s just a massively wasteful practice.

However, all is not lost, 98% of Christmas tree farms are sustainable. This is due to the fact that for every tree that’s cut down, around two to three new trees are planted. This increase in spruce tree numbers has a clear benefit on the environment, the trees taking in large volumes of carbon dioxide as they photosynthesise. While these farms are mostly sustainable, the overall emissions from the Christmas tree industry have detrimental effects on the climate.

There are alternatives that we could all use and take part in to solve this problem. First of all, you could simply buy a fake Christmas tree instead of buying a new one each year. Alternatively, you could buy a potted tree. This is a very environmentally beneficial option due to the fact that the trees are reusable for every year, similar to the fake trees, but in addition they also have positive effects on the climate through their photosynthesis. Another option is to rent a Christmas tree. This has become a more popular option over more recent years. By renting a tree, you get given your tree for Christmas and then it goes back to the tree farm to be replanted. This is extremely positive for the environment as it not only helps to take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen, it creates new habitats every year, helping to promote biodiversity.

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