Which tree's the greenest?

Christmas is coming and the decorations will soon be dusted off, but what is greenest - an artificial tree or a real fir that is dug up and then thrown away at the end of the festive season? Environment editor PAUL GEATER asks people which they think is most environmentally effective.

By Paul Geater

Christmas is coming and the decorations will soon be dusted off, but what is greenest - an artificial tree or a real fir that is dug up and then thrown away at the end of the festive season? Environment editor PAUL GEATER asks people which they think is most environmentally effective.

WITHIN the next ten days, homes across the country will be putting up their Christmas trees and be decked out for the festive season.

But is it good for the environment to dig up a young, immature, tree then leave it in the house for two weeks before throwing it out to be composted or chopped up for mulch?

Is it not better to get a re-useable artificial tree that can be brought out of the loft every December and still bring a touch of Christmas glitter to your home?

Most people The Evening Star contacted felt real was certainly best from a Christmas point of view - but were agreed that any tree should be disposed of properly.

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Ipswich council's environment spokeswoman Louise Gooch said her family preferred artificial trees - but not necessarily because of green issues.

“They don't drop needles on the carpet!” She said. “But I don't think there is any environmental argument against real trees if they have been grown nearby - the concern would come if they had been driven across the country.”

Ipswich MP Chris Mole said putting up a real tree was one tradition his family was determined to retain.

He said: “We do always have a proper tree, but we always make sure it is properly dealt with at the end of the Christmas season. It is always either taken to the recycling centre or collected by the council to be composted.

“I think that is environmentally-friendly, so long as it does not end up in a landfill site.”

His Conservative opponent Ben Gummer said his family - headed by Suffolk Coastal MP John Gummer - would not dream of not having a real tree.

“We get one from about a mile away from our home and after it's been in the house we compost all the needles and cut it up for logs to go on the fire - nothing is wasted,” he said.

Suffolk County Council's environment spokesman Eddy Alcock admitted the Christmas tree debate was academic to him: “I live on my own so I don't have a tree. I'm always away at Christmas staying with relatives or in a hotel,” he said.

Most garden centres in Suffolk buy in their trees from growers in or near the county. Ian May at Victoria Nurseries in Westerfield Road always gets his from Hasketon. As he took delivery of trees this week, he said the number he sells does not vary greatly from year to year.

“We always sell about 1,500 - it might be ten per cent up or down on that but there is not great variation.”

The most popular types of real trees are traditional Norway Spruce or the newer variety Nordman which does not drop its needles.

And Mr May said this autumn's cold snaps should be good news for customers: “When you have a frost the needles close up and are gripped tighter by the tree - we've had a few frosts this year and that means the trees should not drop their needles very much at all.

“Last year the autumn was very mild and when the trees were brought in they dropped their needles very easily - that should not happen this Christmas,” he said.

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Real or artificial - which do you prefer? Write to: Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

It takes a Norway spruce seven to eight years to grow to six feet tall.

A Nordman takes nine to ten years to reach six feet tall.

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