Fake Firs

I feel I’ve committed a sin. Three years ago I bought a fake Christmas Tree – it looks very much like a real one, I think you’ll agree. The thought process that led me to take this action was, I admit, the Scrooge coming out in me. The previous year, a beautiful real tree cost me nigh on £50. The fake tree cost me £115. I paid £10 to have the real tree collected for shredding. The fake tree comes apart in 3 pieces and fits neatly into a box stored in the loft, waiting to be used again next year.

I realise I should have thought this through when I was feeling less miserly. Most Christmas trees are made in China, so the odds are that mine was. This means that on top of the damage caused to the environment, through manufacturing of the plastic and metal that makes up the tree, it’s then shipped half way across the world in a container, driven in a lorry to a warehouse and in a car or van to its new home. It’s not recyclable so when it finally gives up the ghost it will go into landfill. The Carbon Trust has calculated that a 2 metre fake tree has a carbon footprint of 40kg. This is around 10 times that of a real tree that gets burned or shredded after Christmas.

The bad news continues, and is in fact bleedingly obvious. While a 2 metre tree is growing happily away for 10 – 12 years, it provides a home for bugs, birds and beasties. At the same time it cleverly captures carbon from the atmosphere. The Nature Conservancy makes me feel even more guilty, reminding me that buying a real tree supports local tree farmers and helps maintain healthy forests.

Well I’ve done it now, so I just have to keep using my fake tree for as long as possible. Apparently the average fake tree is used only 4 times – now that is unforgivable – mine will outlive me!

I do still have my 2 mini trees, aged 2 and 3. They were the last Christmas trees my Mum and Dad enjoyed in their homes. The trees spend spring and summer in a shady spot and the rest of the year looking pretty on my front door step.

Oh, I almost forgot – I have this fake tree – it stands only 20 cm tall and is a family heirloom. This and others used to adorn the tables of a tearoom Grumbling Rose’s family ran in the 50s and 60s, so I think we’ve well and truly negated its carbon footprint. The spooky thing is, we discovered last year, that Victoria has one exactly like it!

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