This week on Ocean Fm we talked about thinking twice about environmental choices when it comes to Christmas Trees.
Did you know?
- In Ireland, more than 450,000 real Christmas trees are sold every year and they each take from 6 to 10 years to grow
- Experts suggest that you need to reuse an artificial tree for about 10 Christmases to keep its environmental impact lower than buying a real tree every year. And yet research suggests the lifespan of an artificial tree is just four years
- The greenest Christmas tree is one that comes in a pot so that it can be put outside and used the following year or planted after Christmas – this way it will continue to store and absorb carbon
- Earliest tree decorations included flowers made of coloured paper, apples, wafers and tinsel. However, evergreen foliage such as native holly had long been used in homes and was considered to possess protective powers
- Ireland has the climate and soil types to produce the very best quality Christmas trees. The two main species grown are Nordmann fir and Noble fir
Why is this important?
- The manufacture of plastic Christmas trees, is mainly from oil, and this creates two thirds of its carbon footprint, according to Dr John Kazer of the Carbon Trust. Another quarter is created by the industrial emissions produced when the tree is made. They are also often shipped long distances before arriving in the shop and then your home
- Trees sequester and store carbon dioxide (CO2) in their stems and roots. During the ten year growing period, one hectare of Christmas trees produces between 70 and 105 tons of oxygen
- Growing Christmas trees in the right areas means that this land is not ploughed and prevents the release of carbon from the soil, while the trees help prevent flooding
- Mulching real trees is important. A 6.5ft tall real tree could result in a carbon footprint of 16kg CO2 if it ends up in landfill because the tree decomposes and produces methane gas – which is 25 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than Carbon dioxide
- By reducing the emissions from transporting trees, and recycling them by chipping, real Christmas trees can become climate positive – removing carbon from the atmosphere
- Many artificial trees are shipped from China, they use hard-to-recycle PVC plastic and carry a carbon footprint of around 40kg of CO2
What can I do?
- Buy a tree in a pot and reuse or replant it
- Take care of your artificial tree if you already have one – make sure to store it securely so that it can last as long as possible
- Make sure your real tree is recycled or mulched to make compost instead of going landfill
- If you buy a real tree make sure that it has been grown in Ireland to reduce its carbon miles
- Create a Christmas tree alternative by decorating or reusing objects around your home in a colourful way – lots of nice ones made from upcycled wood or fabric
For more information
Advice on how to recycle items of waste
Christmas Recycling Advice
Info from local Recycling Companies