As world leaders ink the future of the climate in Paris, Londoners back home seem to be facing a different but somewhat related conundrum: real versus artificial Christmas trees.
Traditionally, a real, somewhat perfect-looking tree that sent a thick aroma of pines wafting through your living room was the unquestionable choice.
But over the years, artificial trees are increasingly finding their way into British households.
Families in favour of fake trees argue that they are easier to maintain, cheaper in the long run, and make them feel like they’re doing their bit to save the environment.
But are artificial trees really that much greener?
Following the footprints
A real versus artificial tree life-cycle assessment report by the Christmas Tree Association threw up some key findings. According to the report, if an artificial tree is preserved for over five years, it’s “global warming potential” is less than a real tree bought every year over that period.
Stewart Croft, spokesperson for Friends of the Earth, said that the positives of artificial trees outweigh and negatives.
“Artificial trees may be harsh on the environment initially, but in the long run they definitely reduce their carbon footprint, simply because they are being reused year on year,” Croft said. He added, “Real trees, though recyclable, can have an extremely adverse effect if just left for landfills.”
A Christmas tree disposal advice report by the Carbon Trust shows that a two-metre tall tree, if it ends up in a landfill, will decompose and produce methane gas, which is almost 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
However, if that same tree is burnt or shredded for chippings, it could reduce its carbon footprint by almost 80%, because it only releases the carbon dioxide already stored in the tree.
A spokesperson for the British Christmas Tree Growers Association (BCTGA) stood by his loyalty towards the real deal. He said: “These trees are especially cultivated, just like crops, and have a positive impact on wildlife. They give birds a place to nest, and also improve the natural conditions in their areas.”
About recycling, he further added, “If people pot their trees or have them chipped for reuse, they would be giving the tree a second lease on life.”
Real or artificial, then?
The choice is rather personal and, as experts suggest, should be influenced by the recycling process.
The part-fake and part-fir tree will combine elements of B&Q’s most-demanded artificial and real versions, that will hopefully put an end to the festive dilemma.