Updated for Christmas 2020

OK, it’s nearly Christmas for those that celebrate it. If you do, you’re probably thinking of moving all that loft junk out of the way once again and digging the fake tree out for yet another year. Alternatively, you may choose to go on the hunt in London for a real one. If you don’t currently have a Christmas tree at all, the obvious question to ask yourself is “should I choose a real or artificial Christmas tree?”

From a purely environmental standpoint, a natural coniferous tree is by far the most responsible choice – Why? Well, let’s see what the The Carbon Trust has to say about it:

“A real pine or fir tree naturally absorbs CO2 and releases oxygen. The Carbon Trust estimates that a 2 metre artificial tree has a carbon footprint around 40kg CO2: more than ten times that of real trees that are burnt”.

Here in London, it’s relatively easy to recycle your old tree without the need to burn it, so the savings in terms of your carbon footprint are even greater. It’s also worth bearing in mind that a real Christmas tree provides a home for all sorts of wildlife throughout the year whilst it’s growing and is also one of Nature’s natural Hoovers by absorbing pollutants, dust and pollen from the air.

In addition to the eco-friendly benefits, there are plenty of other reasons for choosing a real pine/fir tree. According to a 2004 study to see what the nation’s favourite smells were, the whiff of an authentic Christmas Tree was right up there in the top 10 of the list, and only a single place behind the smell of perfume.

According to UK stats, the ratio of people who choose a real tree compared to a fake one is about 50/50. According to the BCTG (British Christmas Tree Growers’ Association) estimate that about 1/3 of households have a traditional tree, 1/3 have an artificial tree and the remaining 1/3 have no tree at all.

Where can I buy a real Christmas tree in London?

Whilst there are a multitude of outlets, chain-stores and small vendors in London to buy real Christmas trees, if you want to support the BCTG, there are several places in London to choose from. The Christmas Forest has numerous outlets dotted around London including Dulwich, Highbury, Hackney, Ealing, Kensal Green, Putney, Finsbury Park, Lavender Hill, Richmond and Stoke Newington.

The website gives you the choice of different types of trees too:

  1. Nordmann Fir Real Christmas Trees – The are ‘non-drop’ Christmas trees and are grown sustainably on Scottish tree farms. There’s a range of heights to suit any home or space. The Nordmann Fir Christmas trees have aromatic dark green foliage and if you keep them well-watered, they’ll retain their needles throughout Christmas.
  2. Norway Spruce Real Christmas Trees – This is a sweet smelling, Norway Spruce and is one of the most affordable in the range. It’s classically shaped and deep green in colour which means it’ll brighten up any home during the festive season.
  3. Pot-Grown Fraser Fir Christmas Trees – Since this tree is grown in a pot, it’ll last throughout the festive season and beyond. It’s ideal for small spaces and as it has actual, living roots, it has excellent needle retention and a wonderful smell.
  4. Decorated Christmas Trees – With this easy option, there’s not much for you to do. They’ll deliver your tree and will decorate it for you beforehand in the style of your choice.

**Note for Christmas 2020 – Since the website provides trees for stores across London, they have upodated their website with additional Covid 19 information although you can still go and pick up your chosen tree in-store. The other obvious option is to oder online instead and get your tree delivered to you.

What do I do with my tree after Christmas?

Many of London’s local authorities will pick up your tree along with your normal garden waste but bear in mind that if it’s large with a trunk more than 2 inches in diameter you may have to dispose of it yourself.

Once collected by or delivered to your local council’s recycling depot, your tree will be taken with all the other garden waste where it will be chipped down so that it can be turned into compost. If your local authority sells compost, this could also mean that you end up putting some of it back in your own garden the following year. Be aware that each London authority is different so make sure you check their website to find out more about what services apply in your area.

If you don’t have the time or inclination to deal with the disposal of your tree and you have other post-Xmas rubbish to clear, you can always take advantage of Metro Waste’s rubbish clearance service, where we’ll do all the hard work for you instead.

Depending on where you bought your Christmas tree from, some outlets will allow you to return it to them after Christmas for disposal, so it’s also worth checking with them too.

Fascinating Christmas Tree Facts

  1. One acre of living Christmas trees can provide enough oxygen for the daily requirements of 18 people.
  2. According to the University of Illinois, the first decorated Christmas tree was in Riga, Latvia in 1510 and the first printed reference to Christmas trees appeared in Germany in 1531.
  3. As most people know, the traditional day to take down Christmas decorations is on the 6th of January (otherwise known as the twelfth day of Christmas). If you leave them up for longer, it’s traditionally regarded as bad luck.
  4. In times gone by, local peasants were allowed 12 days of Merrymaking over the Christmas period. After this, all decorations were swiftly removed as a clear sign that the party was over and it was time to get back to work.

Support Local Businesses

As we mentioned earlier, buying an authentic Christmas tree helps local London businesses and the staff they employ. Opting to buy a new artificial tree isn’t a great option because of the high carbon footprint caused by the manufacturing and transportation process. When you consider that most artificial trees are manufactured abroad (mainly in China) you can understand the cumulative negative carbon effect on the planet.

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