With Christmas Eve just one month away, and the British Christmas Tree Growers Association (BCTGA) warning of a Christmas tree shortage, it is time to think about which tree to get: real or fake?
Over six million real trees are bought every Christmas, manifesting Britain's unceasing love for the real thing. However, there has been an increase in the popularity of artificial trees over the years as they last season after season, as well as offer a solution to the 'needle drop' problem.
But when choosing whether to go for a real or a fake tree it is important to put your eco hat on and consider: which is most environmentally friendly?
Despite offering a quick solution that will last for years, most artificial trees are made of metal and plastics, and have been transported from the Far East. Most fake trees are also non-bio degradable, and are likely to end up cluttering some landfill for centuries after having been discarded for a newer, more fashionable version.
You may argue that real trees get cut down and also end up on some landfill come January, but being a bit eco savvy there are great options out there for those wanting to do their bit for the environment while still enjoying all that the festive season can offer.
Why root for British grown Christmas trees?
Christmas trees provide a great source for production of oxygen, each acre of trees producing enough oxygen for the daily need of 18 people, and for every tree cut this season at least one more will be planted in its place. All BCTGA growers subscribe to a code of conduct that ensures their crops are sustainable and do not cause damage to the local wildlife.
What are the greener options?
Choose locally grown Christmas trees that have been cultivated in a sustainable manner (visit www.christmastree.org.uk to source). If this is your choice, don't buy the tree earlier than 1st December to ensure that it keeps for the length of the festivities.
If the idea of cutting a tree down is unbearable, buy a container grown tree and replant it in January. If looked after properly, it could end up bringing Christmas cheer to the household for years - and perhaps save a couple of pennies too!
Alternatively, there are many rent-a-tree companies, like Trees for Rent, popping up these days to help make Christmas as eco-friendly as possible. Simply place an order via the website, wait for the tree to be delivered, keep it over Christmas and then watch it go back to the field it came from once the festive season is over. For as little as £35 a tree can be your year after year.
However, if you would rather do-good than buy a real tree, check out urban tree planting charity Trees for Cities to buy a gift that will keep on giving. Their green gifts are sustainable and will make a real and lasting difference to UK communities and around the world. Choose between an apple tree in Addis Ababa or an ice cream tree in Peru for £10, or give children in urban areas a tree-mendous experience trough Trees for Cities' community greening projects for as little as £15 .
Give your tree a bit of TLC
If opted for the real thing, keep in mind the tree is a living object that needs some tender loving care in the weeks it embellishes your house. Keep the tree in water (or the pot) outside until you're ready to bring it indoors, where it should be placed away from direct heat and keep watered throughout the season - it will drink at least a quarter of a gallon of water each day.
Remember to recycle
Hippyshopper readers of course know the importance of recycling, but unfortunately only 10% of real Christmas trees are recycled each year. This is truly a shame as there are so many great options available.
Last year, 33 London boroughs offered Christmas tree recycling schemes. Visit the Recycle for London website to find your nearest Reuse and Recycling centre.
Outside of the capital, local authorities, as well as DIY retailers and garden centres, offer recycling services. Look on www.recyclenow.com to find your local tree collection points.
Alternatively, if you have a garden, place your tree outside and let animals inhabit there, or chip it to create mulch that can be used around other trees and shrubs. If you have no need for mulch, your local authority would welcome it as they use it to create paths and hiking trails or at playgrounds.
Happy Christmas tree shopping!