Decaying brown Christmas trees dumped on the winter streets are not just a sad reminder that the festivities are over – they are also bad for the environment.
Of the eight million bought each year, an estimated seven million are thrown out at the end of the season, adding up to a huge carbon footprint.
Each 6ft tree is equivalent to 16kg of greenhouse gas CO2 if it goes to landfill, the Carbon Trust says.
But there is a greener way of enjoying a real tree in your home – you can rent a living one that is then replanted in January.
Paul Keene of Cotswold Fir, which rents out thousands each year, said: “There is something uncomfortable about chopping down a tree that’s taken seven or eight years to grow, keeping it in your house for a couple of weeks and then throwing it out. It feels wasteful.”
His pot-grown Norway spruces can be reused for an average of six years. They are kept in the pot at home and customers are asked to water them during the hire period.
Then when the decorations come down, instead of wrestling the dried-out tree carcass through the door, your thriving plant is simply returned to Paul’s farm shop near Cheltenham, Glos, where it is replanted for next year.
Many customers rent the same tree year after year and even name them – with the most popular names being Colin the conifer, Bruce the spruce and Christopher the Christmas tree.
Rental starts at £25 for a 3ft tree, with £15 damage deposit.
Emi Murphy of Friends of the Earth said: “A real tree will be better than a new artificial one, which uses a lot of resources to produce and will take decades, or even centuries, to break down.
“But growing a real tree that’s only used for one year is an intensive use of land which could be better used for supporting nature.
“A hired tree can go on growing and continuing to absorb carbon emissions.”
This comes as flood-plagued towns will get a boost as £1.4million is poured into tree planting to help prevent rivers bursting their banks.
The Environment Agency’s Woodlands For Water projects will plant 850,000 trees that will bolster 160km of river and defend 500 properties.
The scheme is part of a £4m investment to find innovative ways to plant trees. Forestry Minister Lord Goldsmith said: “Trees are the backbone of our urban and rural environments. Planting is an effective way to tackle climate change.”
Last year, the Mirror launched its MillionMirrorTrees campaign in partnership with A Trillion Trees.
We gave away 20,000 trees as part of a bid to plant a million over five years. Just 13 per cent of the UK has tree cover against an EU average of 37 per cent.