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Christmas trees

There is a lot of debate about which is better—a fake or a real Christmas tree.

Fake trees

The advantages of fake trees are that they:

  • can be re-used year after year
  • are generally less expensive
  • can be left up for longer.

Young girl adding decoration to a Christmas tree made from sticks on a beach.


The disadvantages of fake trees are that they:

  • are made of plastics and metals
  • are not biodegradable
  • end up as waste in landfill before too long
  • are often shipped long distances
  • need to be stored for the remainder of the year.

Real trees

The advantages of a real tree are that they:

  • are biodegradable
  • can be chipped into mulch in the New Year
  • help act as a filter to clean the air in the years they take to grow
  • smell wonderful.

The disadvantages of a real tree are that they:

  • are sometimes grown using pesticides and herbicides
  • may be shipped across the country
  • produce mess inside your house
  • need to be recycled (while they can be mulched, you are likely to have to transport the tree yourself and not all communities can access recycling options.)

So what to choose for a happy medium?

One popular and sustainable option is getting a potted, live Christmas tree. If you keep it properly watered it won't dry out, shed foliage or become a fire hazard. Depending on the type of tree you chose, it can smell wonderful too. When you're done with the tree, you don't need to arrange for it to be mulched—you can plant it outside. You can plant it in the garden to decorate as an outdoor tree or leave it in its pot to bring inside again for next year—and it will clean the air for many years to come.

For a particularly Australian approach you could choose a native shrub or plant and put this into your garden at the end of the festive season. A potted grevillea, banksia or bottlebrush will provide food for native birds if you later plant it in your garden.

You can really think outside the square and make your own natural tree by gathering some dramatic branches from outdoors and setting them in a large, weighted pot. Or really get arty and create one from scratch from dead twigs or found objects.

If you opt for a fake tree, choose a durable one and keep it in good condition ready to re-use for many years to come.