Somerset House Lorna Thompson

Lorna Thompson

Most homes have a Christmas tree, but which is greenest? Artificial trees can be used each year, but are made from oil. And real Christmas trees are dug up and then often just chipped and thrown away. Let’s take a look.

Keep pets away from Christmas trees due to pine needles, mulch and tinsel/decorations.  Holly and mistletoe are also toxic to pets. Read more on keeping pets safe at Christmas.

The eco Christmas tree is made from sustainably-harvested wood, leftover from coppicing which is a traditional practice to help retain woods and wildlife. These are quite beautiful and sent in sustainable packaging. You just decorate, then use it again next year.

The UK buys around 7 million real Christmas trees each year, where it would be far better to just rent them. They are then collected and repotted to save them being chipped up and going too landfill. Buying from local growers also helps to create local jobs and boost the local economy. You can rent trees (choose non-drop ones for homes with pets and less vacuuming). One manager of a Christmas tree rental company says that up to 300 families rent the same trees each year. One family have actually named their tree Colin (?!)

Welcome the Woodshop is a unique company, creating eco-friendly Christmas trees. They’re American and so it’s a one-time purchase, but it’s a good idea for someone here to emulate: trees made from reclaimed wood (chestnut from dismantled barns).

Oncor Christmas trees are artificial, but with recycled PVC and trees are designed to last 30 years. They include a metal stand and are sent in recycled boxes.

zero waste Christmas tree decorations 

Etsy has huge choice for these, like these linen decorations made from leftover offcuts. Or use these stunning colourful recycled paper decorations (obviously not near lights, due to fire hazards).

Eco Tinsel offers easy-to-recycle garlands made from 100% recycled paper over PVC tinsel that never breaks down. Handcrafted to high standards with 1000 precision handmade cuts, each garland is 180cm in length in wide strips to create super-bushy decorations in various colours that have rings to make them easy to hang. Not to use near Christmas lights, keep away from fire and flames.

greener Christmas fairy lights

Throw away dodgy Christmas fairy lights if they are a fire hazard. Only buy lights that conform to British safety standards, and check smoke alarms before using. Have a fire blanket and home extinguisher nearby. If in doubt, just leave out lights, they can be major fire hazards, especially next to trees or curtains.

Low-voltage LED lights are always recommended as safest but for indoor use, as they remain cool to touch, last longer and save up to 90% on energy. Ensure air circulates around the transformer, and keep away from carpets and furnishings. Never overload soackets and turn lights off when you leave the house or go to sleep (this also lets transformers cool down).

Outside, use an RCD (residual current device) to automatically switch lights off, in case of a fault. It’s not good to use lights outside anyway, as it causes light pollution to wildlife and birds (increasing chances of them flying into windows). Homes that have hundreds of flashing lights outside their house may seem fun, but are a hazard for light pollution. Some houses use so many, it can cause circuit cut-offs for other homes to go without electricity.

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