Sustainable Christmas tree decorations

How to be sustainable this Christmas

Struggling to be sustainable over the holidays? Whether you want to avoid waste, give plastic the cold shoulder or just want to get a bit creative over the festive period, we've put together a few top tips to make your Christmas even greener this year.

Family shopping for Christmas trees

1. Choose a Grown in Britain certified tree

A report published by Grown in Britain in 2019 said new tree pests and diseases could be hitchhiking their way into the UK on some of the tens of thousands of Christmas trees that are imported every year. By choosing a Grown in Britain-certified tree, you’ll be sure you are getting a tree grown in the UK and you’ll also be helping reduce the risk of unwanted pests spreading to this country. 

Check out our map to find your nearest Forestry England tree shop.

2.    If you want to go that little bit extra, opt for a potted tree

Grown to around three to four feet tall, potted trees may be smaller than your typical Christmas tree but they can literally last a lifetime. Once they’ve been the focal point of your living room for the holiday season, potted trees make fantastic patio plants with a little love and care.

Or, if you have enough garden space, plant your tree to grow and thrive after the holidays – it’ll also help provide food for wildlife like siskins, who love to eat seeds from spruce trees.


Forestry Commission staff inspecting trees for aphids

3.    Re-use Christmas decorations and avoid single-use ornaments 

For many, unboxing and dusting off Christmas decorations marks the start of the holiday season. It’s also a great time to get the whole family involved by making your own decorations.

If you do need to top up your collection, choose sustainably sourced decorations and avoid lametta (single thread) tinsel which isn’t recyclable, can be difficult to remove from branches, and can pose a hazard to pets who might get tangled in it or swallow it. If you're feeling creative, why not try making your own?

4.    Choose certified Christmas cards and wrapping paper

A sustainable Christmas doesn’t have to stop at your family’s tree, it’s also about the many trees around the world that have gone into making Christmassy products like wrapping paper, as well as Christmas cards – a whopping 1 billion of which are sold in the UK each year.

Look for the FSC® or PEFC logos when you shop to know wood products come from well-managed forests and other controlled sources. Consider giving old magazines or newspaper a second life as Christmas wrapping paper too, and make sure to recycle everything when you’re done!

Wrapping a christmas present with decorations
Close Up Christmas tree pines

5.    Recycle your tree

There’s nothing sadder than the sight of a real Christmas tree in a plastic bin bag on the curb, ready to go to landfill after the holidays. After the last decoration has been taken down and thoughts of Christmas are a distant memory, visit your local authority website or Recycle Now to find out how to recycle your tree.

Many local authorities offer a drop-off or curbside tree recycling service, so your tree can be put to good use by being chipped and used locally. 

6. Give the gift of experience 

We all love giving and receiving Christmas presents, but the sheer amount of stuff, often plastic, that we end up with post-Christmas can be a little overwhelming. This year, invest in gifts that are a little kinder to our planet. 

A Forestry England Membership is a great way to give somebody special an entire year of fresh air, forest adventures and unforgettable memories. Choosing to give a Membership is also a great way for you to support your local forest and the valuable work we do. All the money we make is reinvested into caring for the nation’s forests, for the benefit and enjoyment of all, for this generation and the next.

Forestry England Membership card on a wooden trunk

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A close up of a Nordmann fir tree

Let our specialist tree teams help you pick the perfect Grown in Britain Christmas tree for your home and support your local forest this Christmas. 

Our sales centres will open soon, so please check local opening days and times before visiting. 

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