THE BIG TREE DEBATE - ARTIFICIAL  VS REAL


Well, I say ‘Big Debate’ but it’s really a very short debate. Real is best. We all know it. Even the people who think plastic is fantastic must secretly spend the entire festive period trying to convince themselves, and the numerous visitors who descend on their home, that their Christmas is enhanced by the plastic and metal imposter sitting in the corner.

But you would expect me to say that, wouldn’t you? As a grower of trees, I spend a worryingly large amount of time coaxing my trees to grow into fine specimens and admiring those that do make it to a saleable standard. To me, a real tree is such a fundamental part of the Christmas experience that not having one would be like serving your turkey without bread sauce. And we all like bread sauce, don’t we?

 
artificial vs real.jpg

Spot the Difference (Clue – the artificial tree is on the left) 

Anyway, let me try to take my personal views out of this and focus on the facts. There has been a lot of research done by some pretty clever sounding people and what it boils down to is this; a typical artificial tree produces somewhere between 10 and 16 times the greenhouse gas emissions of real tree. So, taking the lower estimate, you’d need to wheel out your artificial tree for at least 10 years before the environmental impact became lower than that of a real tree. And, realistically, you’re not going to want to see that same old, tatty tree again after 5 years, let alone 10.


This assumes that your real tree is mulched or burned after you’re done with it. You don’t want it to go to landfill as it will produce methane gas as it slowly decomposes, which is much worse than the carbon dioxide given off through mulching or burning. Fortunately, with all the council ‘treecycling’ initiatives in place now, I can’t believe that many spent real trees actually end up in landfill.


At Kingsley Farm we offer a ‘treecycling’ service for a small additional cost. We collect your tree after Christmas which has a couple of major benefits for you; firstly, you don’t have to worry that it will end up in landfill and, secondly, it won’t make a mess in your car.


When you buy a real tree it helps the environment in another way; you help to maintain our plantation. We are a relatively small setup, but we still have 10,000 trees growing at any time. After we cut and sell, we re-plant the following spring to ensure that the supply is maintained. Our plantation produces enough oxygen every day for 60 people. If there was no market for real Christmas trees, then our plantation wouldn’t exist. 


Some people are concerned about the potential fire risk associated with real trees as they dry out while indoors during December and into January, and this is clearly a risk that should be taken seriously. You can avoid this by using a solid, stable tree stand with a large reservoir for water. Keep the water topped up (you’ll find your tree ‘drinks’ more than you’d imagine) and your tree will remain hydrated. This is a ‘win win’ as you not only remove the fire risk, but you also ensure that the needles will stay looking fresh.


We sell the very popular Cinco tree stands which are available to suit whatever size of tree you opt for. They are robust, will last for years, are easy to adjust to get your tree perfectly vertical and, most importantly of all, have a large water reservoir.  

 
Our customers tell us that walking amongst the trees, with a mince pie and glass of mulled wine in hand, while seeking out their perfect tree, has become an integral part of their Christmas celebration. Perhaps it’s the free mulled wine that does it but the kids enjoy it too, and they’re not allowed the good stuff.


If you are not swayed by this weight of evidence and are still planning your shopping trip to B+Q for a plastic monstrosity, then all I can suggest is that you try us first. Take a stroll with your mulled wine. See, touch and smell the trees. If you come away from that and you’re still not converted then, frankly,  you’re beyond help.

     
I will make one concession though; artificial trees do win on price. If a realistic ‘fake’ costs around £150, and you manage to get 6 years use out of it, that’s £25/year. A freshly cut Nordmann fir, bought from us, will set you back about just short of £40/year. So, yes, you could save around 15 quid each Christmas but would you be able to sleep at night? I mean, we’ve all seen Blue Planet, haven’t we?