Green Elf Trees hires out-of-work musicians, supporting a sector hard-hit by the pandemic.
by: Eliza Pitkin, Michele Theil
1 Dec 2022
Make your Christmas tree more sustainable this year. (Credit: Green Elf Trees)
The festive season is upon us as we begin eyeing up our advent calendars, writing up our wish lists and hanging up our stockings.
One of the best parts of Christmas is the aroma of woody pine that pervades through the home courtesy of our Christmas trees.
However, with environmental awareness and deforestation in the global consciousness more than ever before, it is crucial that even this most comforting of traditions is given deeper consideration.
Companies such as Green Elf Trees, Pines and Needles and Christmas Forest are just some of the brands paving the way to an eco-friendlier Christmas. They all sell real trees, which have a “significantly lower” carbon footprint than reusable plastic trees, according to the Carbon Trust, and they all are doing their bit for the environment and community.
Green Elf Trees, based in London, contributes £3 to charity for every tree purchased, supporting organisations such as Mind, Great Ormond Street Hospital, Crisis, Dogs Trust and Age UK. The company says it has “raised over £20,000″ for the various charities so far.
Caleb Silcock, the co-founder of Green Elf Trees, said not only are his trees helping the planet, but “one of [our] suppliers also supply the Ritz, so they are very high-quality trees.”
Green Elf is partnered with Jadecliff, a family-owned business that has grown Christmas trees for almost 30 years. For every tree that is harvested, two are planted to replace it. All the trees accommodate wildlife such as deer, birds and insects.
Silcock said: “We only source British trees because a lot of trees come from Europe, so if they’re coming local, they emit less carbon emissions and we optimise our deliveries around London, so it’s not based on speed, but minimising the miles spent. For our deliveries, we offset all our carbon emissions, so we’re carbon negative.”
Christmas Forest is another company based in London that provides real, sustainable trees.
Director Veronika Kusak said: “This year we selected Earth Restoration Society for a charity, we have committed to sponsoring 40 schools that grow tree nurseries and work with local schools to teach kids about trees and the importance of them, and then those trees are planted in the local area.”
Approximately six to eight million Christmas trees in the UK end up in the landfill every year, which accounts for 12,000 tonnes of the waste generated over the festive period, according to GWP Group.And a two-metre tree with no roots creates 16 kilograms of CO2 when disposed of in a landfill, the Carbon Trust says.
Hoping to avoid adding to the waste, these environmentally conscious companies also offer a responsible collection service.
Kusak from Christmas Forest said: “We will pick up the trees, bring them back, and then chip them all. These chips are then donated to various councils and green spaces. Anything that isn’t claimed, will be sent to be used as biofuel.”
According to Jadecliff, “Real trees can be mulched for landscaping and gardening, or turned into woodchips for trails, paths and ground covering.”
Green Elf Trees makes compost with its returned Christmas trees, and in some cases, upcycles them into candles.
Another option for people wanting to get a Christmas tree but worried about the environmental impact of doing so are services that offer tree rentals. This allows you to get a real tree in your home for the festive period that can then be re-used and replanted rather than just being thrown out.
There are also some local, smaller businesses across the country that operate a tree rental service for Christmas as the market has grown significantly in recent years, Cotswold Fir’s founder Craig Tennock previously told Country Living.
If there isn’t one in your local area, Good Elf is a company that operates nationwide delivery so no matter where you live, you can make sure to have a sustainable Christmas, though getting one locally will of course be more beneficial for the environment as it won’t contribute as much to carbon emissions.
Another benefit of renting a tree is that you don’t have to work out how you’re going to get it out of your house and to the tip, as many companies include delivery and pick-up for a fee.
Most tree rental companies will ask for a ‘damage deposit’, which is usually refundable after the tree is returned and inspected to ensure it is in the same condition as when it left the lot.
There are also options to take the same one home every year so you can see the life cycle of your tree as it sees you and your family through Christmas. When they are returned, they are cared for by experienced tree experts, allowing them to grow and thrive for years to come.
Renting a pot-grown tree has other advantages for the environment than just reducing the number of them being cut down and thrown away, as it uses less fertiliser and space to grow them than on a conventional Christmas tree farm.
A rented tree does not necessarily cost less than a cut tree as the logistics of growing it, caring for it throughout the year, and ensuring it is sent out and returned carefully can be costly, but you can spend the money safely in the knowledge that you are slowly reducing waste this Christmas.
Your local vendor is at the sharp end of the cost-of-living crisis this Winter. Prices of energy and food are rising rapidly. As is the cost of rent. All at their highest rate in 40 years. Vendors are amongst the most vulnerable people affected. Support our vendors to earn as much as they can and give them a fighting chance this Winter.