The argument for a plastic Christmas tree
Artificial Christmas trees are commonly made of a type of plastic called polyvinyl chloride (PVC).
Like all plastics, it’s created from oil which is a finite resource. The creation process also produces carbon dioxide (as opposed to growing a real Christmas tree, which absorbs it).
Fake trees are often made overseas in countries like China, meaning that they’ve produced even more carbon-emissions during their long journey to your home. Plastic Christmas trees also can’t be recycled, often ending up in landfill.
Despite this, artificial trees have one big advantage over natural trees – their longevity. Unlike real trees that only last one festive season, artificial trees can be packed down and wheeled out year after year.
Environmental groups have argued that using an artificial tree for four or more years can help offset its carbon footprint. If cared for, many fake Christmas trees can even last up to 20 years.
Alternative Christmas trees
Your options aren’t restricted to real or fake. There are alternative Christmas tree options available commercially, as well as trees you and your family can craft yourself.
Potted Christmas trees
Want the longevity of an artificial tree with the environmental benefits of a real tree? Consider a potted Christmas tree instead. These trees are often smaller than those available cut, but with the right maintenance and pruning can stay in shape for many festive seasons.
Potted trees also allow for native varieties like the Geebung or Wollemi pine. You can even start with a small potted tree and make it part of your family’s Christmas tradition to repot the tree every year as it grows, eventually planting it in your garden once it gets too big.
Wooden Christmas trees
Sometimes referred to as ‘Scandi’ Christmas trees for their pared-back, minimalist look, these trees are made from wooden rods attached like branches to a central wooden pole to mimic the shape of a pine tree.
These are a good option you’re after a reusable, no-mess tree but don’t want plastic. If made from real wood, these Christmas trees still sequester carbon in the same way natural trees do. Those handy with a hammer could even try making their own wooden tree using reclaimed timber for added sustainability points.
If you’re short on floor space but big on Christmas cards, take care of two problems at once by creating a card tree. Simply stick your Christmas cards to a wall in the shape of a tree. Place presents underneath the tree as normal.