Christmas 2023: Top three eco-friendly ways to get a sustainable Christmas tree this year

From drop off and collection services to trendy alternatives, there are plenty of ways your Christmas tree can be a little greener

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While no one can say for sure whether the UK will have a white Christmas this year, there are many ways you can make the festive season a little more green - starting with your choice of tree.

The Christmas season - and the food, family, gifts, and décor that come with it - is fast approaching. But there are also increasing concerns about the impact our festivities can have on the environment, with the UK throwing away approximately 500 tonnes of Christmas lights each year - and binning around 108 million rolls of wrapping paper.

The tree is the centrepiece of many families Christmas celebrations, but come January, many battered plastic trees will be seen peeking out of dumpsters, with their living counterparts left to rot on street corners. Luckily, there are numerous eco-friendly ways you can sustainably source your tree this year - some of which actively benefit the environment.

With the traditional date for setting up your tree creeping ever closer, here are three of the best ways you can sustainably source your tree this year.

There are many eco-friendly and sustainable options for picking your Christmas tree this year (NationalWorld/Adobe Stock)There are many eco-friendly and sustainable options for picking your Christmas tree this year (NationalWorld/Adobe Stock)
There are many eco-friendly and sustainable options for picking your Christmas tree this year (NationalWorld/Adobe Stock)

3. Picking a non-plastic, reusable tree

Using the same tree year after year will certainly help cut back on waste. But with more and more coming to be understood about the potential harm plastic can cause to both the environment and the human body as it breaks down, it might be time to give the plastic tree a miss.

For a tree with a twist, you could look into buying a reusable one made of wood from a UK-based company like Eco Christmas Tree. The branches of each tree - which you can hang decorations from and arrange however you'd like - are handcrafted from sustainably sourced hazel coppice, which is cut as part of a traditional woodland management technique. This means that despite being made of wood, no trees are harmed in the making of your festive décor.

As each Eco Christmas Tree is made from natural untreated products, the company says there will be slight variations in colour, shape and size - making each tree completely unique. All of the components come in a sturdy recycled cardboard box - even held together with recyclable brown paper tape - which can be used to pack your tree neatly away for years to come.

2. Use a sustainable live Christmas tree delivery service

For fans of the more traditional pine tree aesthetic, there are still plenty of eco-friendly options. Companies like Green Elf Trees will rent you a pot-grown Christmas tree - delivered right to your door - and will pick it up again after the holiday season, replanting it in afforestation projects in the South of England.

This allows the same tree to live and grow for many years to come, with the company describing it as more like "fostering a tree". Real trees have roughly 10% of the carbon footprint of artificial ones, they say, and they only source trees grown in the UK to minimise carbon emissions from transport and logistics.

Green Elf deliver across London and much of the UK with an all-electric delivery fleet. On top of that, your money will help support a number of good causes both here and abroad. The company sponsors a mangrove planting project in Madagascar, and also donates £2 for every tree sold to a charity of the customer's choice - including Great Ormond St Children's Hospital, the British Red Cross, Mind, Crisis, the Dogs Trust or Refugees at Home.

1. 'Pull a Pine' for the RSPB

If you'd be eager to help rid a Dorset nature reserve of invasive wild pines and take home a free, sustainable Christmas tree - in one of the UK’s biggest mass conservation efforts - this is the one for you.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds' (RSPB) Arne reserve is inviting people to book now for their annual Pull a Pine event, held over the weekend of December 2-3. The family-friendly event offers the chance to choose, chop down and take home your own traditional tree, and there will also be Christmas crafting workshops, live music, food and drinks, and a Santa visit for the kids.

The trees in question are invasive pines which, if left unchecked, would outcompete the heathland's native plants. Last year’s event saw more than 15,000 trees removed over the course of a weekend, which the RSPB says has helped the site to maintain a healthy mix of gorse and heather. This in turn helps support the native wildlife that call the reserve home, like the silver-studded blue butterfly, sand lizards, and hobby falcons.

Advance booking is essential for this one, but you can register your interest online here.

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