I have a slight dilema this week as a relative brought round a fake christmas tree, that they no longer want. It is in perfect condition but it causes the eco warrior in me to take stock of the situation. Normally we choose to have a real tree, that we source from local growers. You could say that the sacrifice that the tree makes, for years of growing to then be cut down to spend a few weeks in the corner of the room, means that I should go for a fake tree that may last for many many years, leaving the living thing in the ground. However you would be wrong.
If a tree is sourced with care then you can find yourself purchasing from a local suppiler, which means the embodied energy in producing that tree is virtually zero. I knew a game keeper who reared pheasants for shooting, he had a patch of land where he grew various types of Christmas tree, it provided him with a bonus at Christmas and the rest of the year it was cover for the young pheasants. A duel purpose crop which also was a much needed break in the hedgeless expanses of the Lincolnshire agricultural landscape. Without this regular coppicing this small area of trees would soon turn into an overgrown copse which would not cater for the same variety of animals, or would end up being turned back into farm land.
On the other hand buying a live tree each year is a wasteful tradition that contributes needlessly to deforestation. A plastic tree will last for years. A fake plastic tree however comes from half way round the world not to mention the petrolium based materials that go into making it. Also as fashions change and things break these things find there way to the landfill site, you can stick one on the compost heap but you may be waiting a while. Thinking that buying a fake tree will stop the trees being cut down is a false hope, if there was no call for them you may see a whole plantation cut down in favour of a more lucrative crop.
However this does not solve my present problem of what to do with this fake tree I was given. I could put it on freecycle then go out and buy another, but would that be against my principles? I have this thing in my possession, should I make use of it in favour of what I want?