One of the hardest things about the festivities of Christmas is that it has to come to an end and all the twinkly lights have to go away for another year. Although I do unashamedly like it when the house is all clear and tidy and there are no more annoying tree needles to hoover up, the bins have space in them again and feels like there is breathing room. With three children at home it doesn’t stay like that for long and life often feels full to the brim, like our recycling bin!
In my blog series on the the Twelve days on Christmas, on day 10, I compared the eco-credentials of buying a real tree versus re-usable one and some of the options. Now it that time of year to think about the disposal. I’ve recently read some interesting statistics from The Carbon Trust:
A natural two-metre Christmas tree that does not have roots and is disposed of into a landfill after Christmas produces a carbon footprint of around 16kg of CO2. A two-metre tree that has roots and is properly disposed of after its use — by burning it on a bonfire, planting it or having it chipped — has a carbon footprint of around 3.5kg of CO2, four and a half times less.
Comparing this to a non-recyclable plastic tree:
A two-metre Christmas tree made from plastic has a carbon footprint measuring at around 40kg of CO2, more than 10 times greater than a properly disposed of real tree.
Measuring the amount of CO2 in Kg per tonnes is a comparative measure of impact on the environment and this is what is refereed to as the carbon footprint. Reading these statistics on disposal of trees, an artificial tree would need to used for at least 10 years in order for its environmental carbon impact to equal that of a responsibly-disposed natural tree. I am not sure that any of the the artificial trees that we have had over the years would withstand that length of time having the baubles and lights pulled on and off each year. As I’ve said in my previous blog posts, if you have an artificial tree already then it is not supposed to make you feel guilty about it but the best thing to do is to continue to use it or donate to a charity shop for someone else to use.
This year, we have chosen to recycle our real Christmas tree with a local charity Garden House Hospice. For a small donation they will collect your tree and recycle it hassle-free. It is chipped by a team of volunteers and then these chips are donated to use in the playgrounds of local schools. Using this service not only is supporting a charity that relies on the voluntary income but also gives to the community and guarantees that the trees are not wasted but have a local use. There are many places nationwide that offer this service so best to to research your local area.
Alternatively, most local councils will collect the trees if you pay for garden waste pick up. Our local council will take it on a the normal garden bin day and the tree will eventually be turned into nutritious soil conditioner along with the other garden waste.
Whatever the option you choose for recycling your tree, it is always worth considering the carbon impact. For a bit of fun, you can check out this carbon footprint calculator for different activities and it can give you some suggestions for what you can do to reduce it.