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Which is better for the environment – a real fir or a plastic spruce?

Sir David Attenborough has brought the issue of plastic, in all its forms, to the forefront of our minds and it raises the issue of which is more environmentally friendly when it comes to Christmas trees.

Do you dust off the plastic tree, bring in last year’s dormant sapling from the garden or head out into the high street or Christmas tree farm to get a new freshly harvested real tree?

The first decision is whether to opt for a real or artificial tree. A faux tree may keep its needles intact, but will probably be made from a petroleum-based product and may well have been flown in from China. Among the materials commonly used in the manufacture of artificial trees are PVC, polyurethane foam and steel. Although you may reuse it for several years, if your tree is not recyclable the chances are it will eventually linger for centuries in a land-fill site.

In the past, many of the real Christmas trees sold in the UK were transported from far-flung parts of Europe, but today a large number are grown in British plantations.

An advantage of a real tree is that while growing it absorbs the greenhouse gas CO2. However, growers can use chemical fertilisers and pesticides to control things such as aphids and rust mites, although these are generally only used if there is an outbreak in the spring of the year the tree is to be sold.

An increasing number of suppliers provide trees with their roots intact. These are either grown in a plantation then transferred to a pot, or grown from seed in a container.

So what do you think is better for the environment? Do you have a real tree or an artificial one? 

Which is better for the environment - a real fir or a plastic spruce?

197 people have already voted, what's your opinion? A real fir A plastic spruce

What are your views?

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Maggiefaulkner
5 days ago
0
Thanks for voting!
The felled Christmas trees are automatically replaced with new saplings, which apparently provide better effects whilst they are young and growing, these then slow down as the tree gets older - I know how that feels !!!!
Wilf
6 days ago
1
Thanks for voting!
No trees. Plastic is terrible and real ones we need to be planting millions of trees not chopping them down!
ponocio
6 days ago
1
Thanks for voting!
I usually cut a branch off one of my trees and cover it in cotton wool, it looks really good and lasts a few years if you have somewhere to
store it, but now I found out there is plastic in so many things including cotton wool, I will have to look for eco cotton wool for the next one. I agree with the lady who has had her plastic tree for a few years it did save cutting down fir trees, we cannot just throw out plastic items this would just cause more problems, but maybe when they are to tatty to use or break we can replace them with plastic free items.
Jankel
6 days ago
1
Thanks for voting!
A real tree is better. The artificial one I've got we'd had for decades so at least we're not cutting down trees each year
PaulyC
1st Dec 2019
2
Thanks for voting!
I think a real fir is better for the environment but I admit we have an artificial tree as we hate the problem of needles dropping all over the carpet.
Raindrop
29th Nov 2019
1
Thanks for voting!
I guess a real tree is better as you can recycle it afterwards but if these trees are good for the environment outdoors why cut so many down. I feel guilty now as I have a large faux white tree which has come out for years and still looks good. When I decide to get rid of it I will take it to my local charity shop hoping someone else will use it.
thetraveller46
4th Dec 2019
2
Thanks for voting!
If you go to holland you can rent a real tree and take it back in january where it will be replanted.
WellMan
28th Nov 2019
1
Thanks for voting!
Do we really "need" a tree anyway?

For the environment probably neither type of tree nor the ceremonies and superstions surrounding modern day gift giving.

Afterall according to todays news of the scientific proclamation it really is probably too late to do anything ... passed the tipping point of no salvation.

Maybe if one believes in Christianity hanging the gift of love onto prayers of forgiveness to the children of the future with ribbons and banners of hope for allmighty intervention would be better activity.

Everything we do at present destoryes our planet when we have had the warnings and ability to avoid destruction.

Holding money as the god of all reason and purpose of life is adoring not just a false god but the bringer of our worlds destruction. But by then we will have passed away so it doesnt really matter.
Billythequiche
28th Nov 2019
2
Thanks for voting!
None of my business but your "world view" is very sad. Things may seem that they are going "to hell in a hand basket" but there are still good people out there, many of them contribute to this site. I'm not a practising religious person, a counsellor or a charity worker but I feel your sadness. I have no words of wisdom or false comfort but when at a low, seek contact. It may not solve things but it will prove that you are not alone.
WellMan
28th Nov 2019
1
Thanks for voting!
Hi Billy. I am not sad at all.

You seem to have missed the point that its NOT MY VIEW of the world but that of reported scientists that was released today.

We can all go around in the fog of self comfort not wanting to face up to realities of our world. about 75% of the people in our world can not even afford (money) to buy food or medicines let alone the rest of us destroying the planet they and we need to survive on.

I am not sad but furious at the human pin brains have led us to this juncture. Between religions, race, colour, politics and greed for the shinies and everything else have sacrificed fanststic humans of their true potential, abilities and destinies.

We need to face the realities as we and our children will have to face what the realities bring.
Lionel
29th Nov 2019
2
Thanks for voting!
That's a good reply Billy and I thank you. Like you I'm one of that rare breed of optimists.

I'm not one of those good people you speak of, but it must be said there are more hands reaching out to us both than we can grasp

Such 'nice' people are so worried about the state of our planet, plastics, Extinction Rebellion et al,, whether we should have a plastic or real tree ... but the question ever before us surely is what will you do about the homeless ... and so many other disturbing questions.

At this time of year, I was made homeless by a fine upstanding 'Christian' man, a pillar of the community. Seven days and get out. Whilst my first wife and I were squeezing into a friends house he preached ... love thy neighbour as thyself. I heard him.

Yes, I've been homeless. I didn't have a home in deep winter. But a truly sold out Christian lady gave us shelter.

Instead of worrying about plastic trees and plastic waste why do we not deal with an ever-present crisis? The homeless?

My lovely wife and I are involved with a national homeless charity which has a local place. It's in a former convent.

You want to see these guys and gals. They don't worry about plastic trees or real, there're used to living from hand to mouth. They are former drug addicts, alcoholics ... who cares? They are people, have a home, a shelter; they have food ... given a break they're fantastic people.

These are the people who will save the world, if you like that phrase. These are the people who will take this world forward; they've been touched by hardship, hunger ... there's more I dare not write.

Plastic or real Xmas trees? Pales into insignificance in compansion, don't you think?
Billythequiche
30th Nov 2019
1
Thanks for voting!
Oops, wrong again, sorry. Still wish you well, you are obviously an empathetic person but bearing the ills of the world is a heavy burden.
Billythequiche
30th Nov 2019
2
Thanks for voting!
Lionel, you are not just an optimist, you are a good man in the real sense of the word.
Lionel
1st Dec 2019
2
Thanks for voting!
Billy, you overrate me yet I'm quite touched with the thought. Thank you.

Our part is quite unofficial. There's about 25 guys and gals there, and not one would you dare take home to mum. Yet just seeing them come right with the love and understanding that place offers beggars belief. Let me very briefly tell you about one chap. I'll call him Lee.

He about 45, big, muscular and scruffy. Long-haired with a week's stubble. Lee was very aggressive toward everyone. We all thought he'd have to move on because he didn't fit the facilities offered. A few months ago on a wet morning I took my dogs there; a then 9 week old Collie bitch and a much older boy.
Tears rolled down Lee's face. The girls were fawning over the pup so I showed him the older Collie.

'Please don't touch him, he's very aggressive.' Lee said, 'Mind if I take my chance?' He reached and made a friend of the old boy. He started talking about his family, how he'd failed them, got int0 bad company, drink and drugs. Lee cried his eyes out.

That was a turning point for Lee. We've met him casually a couple of times a week and he's now the star of the show. Gaining self confidence, his feelings of rejection passing, he's much cleaner ...

Our family don't want to spend Christmas Day with us so I'm wanting to take 10 lads and lasses and have them here at home instead.

I just haven't told the wife yet! Any tactful suggestions, Billy?
Billythequiche
2nd Dec 2019
2
Thanks for voting!
Offer to cook before you tell her! I don't overrate you, to butcher the quote "you're a better man than I Gunga Lionel".
If we don't have contact before, blessings to you and your wife at Christmas and happiness to your guests.
Lionel
2nd Dec 2019
2
Thanks for voting!
Billy, a very happy and joyful time to you all, and my our God bless you richly this coming year.
Pottop
28th Nov 2019
3
Thanks for voting!
(Oops. I hadn't finished- I'm new to this) I therefore get the best of both worlds. A fallen branch.......so it's fresh and not plastic. It can be recycled in my compost bin, chopped up and it smells lovely too as I add oils (clove/pine/orange) to it for the duration it's on my ceiling. I find this more fun and less of a physical effort than any other tree. It just requires creativity. Any other ideas? to satisfy the needs of the soul.......
Billythequiche
28th Nov 2019
1
Thanks for voting!
Very sensible and practical.
Pottop
28th Nov 2019
3
Thanks for voting!
I get myself off to the local forest and find a lovely fallen branch. I bring it home, hook it up over the dining room table and hang my jewjews and baubles from it, dangle ivy and anything else that takes my fancy. Last year I painted it white and hung everything silver from it.
Lionel
28th Nov 2019
1
Thanks for voting!
Good idea. Thanks.
Ian123
27th Nov 2019
1
Thanks for voting!
Recycle the natural Fir.
Use the plastic one to cause havoc and misery.
Yagala
27th Nov 2019
1
Thanks for voting!
A real Christmas tree is far better for the environment because after Christmas the tree is either planted in a garden or used as grounded up for potting compost when destroyed.
bob scott
27th Nov 2019
1
Thanks for voting!
I'm in agreement with swaneldo? Simply to stop being a throw away culture, if people go for an artificial tree, when selecting one, don't think of just the now, but how many years will it last you, will it fold and unfold and still look the same year after year, which also depends on care one takes when decorating your tree, I like a real tree the smell of the fir. But the mileage involved, plantation to garden centre, to your home after Christmas to the tip from the tip to a composting site and so on, one tree equals a lot of Milledge. Bob.
swaneldo
27th Nov 2019
4
Thanks for voting!
Hmmm - tricky one - do we chop down loads and loads of trees which are good for the environment if they are left where they are or do we buy a plastic one and use it for decades. I'd rather trees were left where they are as there's enough chopping down of trees already. If you've got a plastic tree - use it and use it and use it .......... As with everything, it needs a balanced argument based on facts.
MrsPat
27th Nov 2019
1
Thanks for voting!
I love real trees but it cannot be good for the environment and what happens to all the dead trees after. Around here they are put into a huge basket and taken away for chippings I think.
ElainePeony
27th Nov 2019
3
Thanks for voting!
Neither! Both are environmentally damaging as we know now... Prince Albert who introduced the habit from Germany of bringing trees into homes meshed with the Nordic and U.K. green man legend with holly and ivy being brought into large homes to deck the halls.
A Christmas Carol promoted the custom, and with cold homes they lasted longer...

Plastic trees were the height of chic in the 1960s.
We know how detrimental the manufacturing of plastic goods is, the sea miles these plastic goods make, and the difficulties of disposal of plastic items. But the impoverished people who make this stuff at our demand deserve compensation if their livelihoods is taken away due to the West not buying such stuff as plastic Xmas trees.

Real trees were a nuisance as the needle drop was a daily chore to sweep up..
In the olden days, I bought Xmas trees with roots, and planted them out and dug them up the next year to bring in...the little blue spruce was the best.

So, neither plastic or real tree is best, except if people can plant out and dig it up and pot for another year, then plant out and so on.
Munsterlander
27th Nov 2019
4
Thanks for voting!
This is a difficult question. On the one hand we do not want any more plastic and I suspect that these are made in China and shipped to the UK when they are used about 10 times. On the other we should be encouraging tree growth BUT not cutting them down and transporting them etc etc...more oil more pollution. On balance it is probably better for real trees.
Margaret Hart
27th Nov 2019
4
Thanks for voting!
As we spend every Christmas with my son and his family we only have a small ready decorated artificial tree but we’ve always had an artificial tree as I am allergic to the spikes on the real trees. My son now has a real tree in a much bigger room and I keep well away from it. I would have liked to have one with roots on so it was in the garden for the rest of the year but I know they are difficult to keep alive.

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