Dec 01

40,000 Christmas Trees

40,000 Christmas trees are passing through New Smithfield market this year, right in front of the offices where I work! The guy who sells them is the biggest real Christmas tree wholesaler in Manchester and sells to other wholesalers – and also to some of my colleagues!!

The question which has been bugging me is…….  which are more sustainable, real trees or artificial trees?

Here’s what I found:

Artificial Trees

Artificial Christmas Tree


  • Reusable – last 6 years on average. How many years have you used yours for?
  • Less expensive
  • Don’t dry out – already dry!


  • Most made in the Far East and shipped great distances
  • Don’t biodegrade – made from PVC or other mildly toxic plastics and processed wood products
  • Toxic byproducts such as lead in production
  • Energy intensive production
  • Don’t look as good

Real Trees

Real Christmas Tree Farm


  • Natural/ biodegradable
  • Smell nice
  • Can be chipped to mulch, wood chips, compost
  • Farms support wildlife


  • Lots of pesticides used
  • Some transported great distances eg. 40,000 on New Smithfield Market from Scotland, Belgium, Denmark
  • Shed needles – however they are satisfying to hoover up

Conclusions: Real trees are best!!


  1. Buy a live tree and bring it inside year after year (until it outgrows your living room!). I have been reliably informed this is challenging so seek advice if you go for the greenest option!
  2. If you live in or near London, buy your tree from the Christmas Forest, an independent ‘tree-tailer’ that sells trees at seven sites around the city. Trees are sustainably sourced http://www.christmasforest.co.uk/
  3. Recycle your real tree after Christmas – lots of local councils now collect!
  4. Christmas Tree Recycling
  5. Check where the tree is grown! British Christmas Tree Grower’s Association has strict guidelines for its 400+ members including wildlife and other sustainability measures. http://www.christmastree.org.uk/index.htm.

If you have any comments I would like to hear them. A friend on facebook made a good point about Christmas trees being a non native species to the UK.

Take care,



  1. Kim

    My husband delivered some of the Christmas trees into Smithfield market! which then made him decide that we need a real potted tree for Christmas. This has now been planted outside the front door, still in the pot as advised, ready for next Christmas.

  2. itsjoewhite

    What a conincidence! They looked great quality by the way. I hope you took the decorations off :)

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