Christmas Debate For The Environment: Real or Artificial Tree?

real or artificial tree for christmas

I remember walking down a residential street in London after Christmas, 2 years ago. It was full of pine trees left on the pavement, waiting to be collected… Not only was it annoying for pedestrians, but it really looked like a long tree cemetery. I imagined them talking to each other: “Oh you’ve been chopped too? Now they’re getting rid of us like a vulgar piece of rubbish”. Ok, I know it’s weird to imagine trees speaking… But they used to be living things after all. I think it’s cruel to cut them just for a few weeks. For that reason, I’ve always preferred a fake tree for Christmas. But now I’m starting to wonder if it is indeed the right choice for the planet. What if fake trees are actually worse for the environment? I have gone through the pros & cons for both options below.

Should I buy a real tree for Christmas?

Buying a real tree would allow me to have different decoration styles at home if I ever fancy a change. Maybe I’ll go for a different size, shape and/or type of tree each year for example. It smells good too. It makes me feel like I’m bringing nature inside and that is not something a fake tree can provide. And maybe it’s actually good for the planet, because if people didn’t buy them, farmers wouldn’t plant them! Pine trees take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen during the 8-12 years it takes to grow to a reasonable height, which is cleaning the air and helping slow climate change. But then, what do I do with it once Christmas is over? I’m sure I can recycle it, somewhere, somehow… but it seems like a hassle. Also, I can’t help but thinking it’s not right to remove these trees from their roots.

… Or should I buy a fake tree instead?

Most artificial trees are made of plastic and manufactured in China, so it’s actually not the best option for the planet because its contribution to global warming is much higher than a real local tree (if it’s then recycled properly). They sell really nice looking ones though, real trees don’t always look better. And they’ll probably be cheaper in the long term depending on their quality. Not to mention it will save me from doing tree shopping every Christmas. I’ll already have it at home ready to be unpacked and reused. Of course they don’t smell as good as a real tree but at least they don’t lose their needles (my 2 cats would definitely spread them everywhere). But then, keeping it means I need to store it and it takes quite some space…

I opted for an artificial tree myself a few years ago. It comes with artificial snow, fake pine cones, fake berries and LED lights all around (really convenient!). It has 3 parts that are super easy to assemble or dissemble, it takes less space that way. But according to the Carbon Trust, we will have to reuse it at least 10 years to have a lower environmental impact than that of a real tree. Challenge accepted. Below our (fake) Christmas tree and our (very real) cats wearing their Christmas jumpers, proudly for one, reluctantly for the other…

my cats wearing their jumper in front of our christmas tree

The bottom line: what’s the better choice?

I mean, the lowest carbon footprint would be to ditch the tradition and not having a tree at all… But it doesn’t really feel like Christmas if there’s no pine tree, does it? Below is my conclusion on the matter:

If you opt for a real tree:

  • Look up where the tree is coming from before you buy it (although it seems there is no need to worry so much about deforestation anymore as most of them come from a horticultural crop and aren’t felled from pre-existing forests).
  • Buy local so your money helps providing employment in the agricultural sector, it will have a lower carbon footprint too because less transport is needed.
  • Find out beforehand how to recycle it so it can be turned into compost – does your local council offer a Christmas tree collection service for example?
  • If you have space in your garden or on your balcony, why don’t you keep it as a permanent tree? (You would need to buy a potted tree with roots in that case).

If you opt for a fake tree:

  • Keep using it and make it last as long as possible!
  • When it’s time to replace it, consider other options like a real tree or decorating existing plants you may already have at home.

What did you go for? Did this post make you change your mind about your decision?

Big Girl x

How to Improve Your Diet to Positively Impact The Planet

burger and fries

Have you decided to become a healthier version of yourself? If so, I’m proud of you and I’m looking forward to sharing that journey with you! What if doing that also gave you the opportunity to take actions and save the planet? I hope you are interested because you can actually do both at the same time. Sustainable nutrition is the future we need.

What is sustainable nutrition?

What I mean is changing your food choices provides the simplest and largest impact you can have on the world and your body. Meat production has a heavy impact on the environment and it’s no secret to anyone that red meat (especially beef) requires a lot more land and more water to produce than poultry, resulting in significantly higher climate-warming emissions. By simply choosing chicken over beef for example, you could reduce your dietary carbon footprint by half! Or you can simply remove animal products from your diet to have an even bigger impact on the planet.

Is a plant-based diet the only solution?

I’ve always found it annoying when someone who chose to be vegan tries to make you feel bad for eating meat, but the truth is their diet is the least damaging for the planet. After a lot of research on the matter, my view on the topic has evolved quite a lot over the past few years. I think it’s all about limiting your carbon footprint without necessarily having to remove your favourite foods from your diet, sometimes it makes a vegan diet easy to adopt, sometimes it feels impossible. So for now I’ve decided to go halfway and have at least one plant-based meal a day.

Huel, short for Human Fuel

huel products in my kitchen

One of the reasons I love this brand so much is that they really care about the environment and are making an effort to talk about it more: “Halting climate change is possible, eating for our health is achievable and lowering our carbon emissions is simple. It all starts with changing the way we eat. It’s time to change the way we think about food.” Huel is 100% plant-based and any food waste becomes renewable energy. They provide all nutrients you need and they constantly innovate with new flavours, no wonder why they keep growing (and it’s really good news for the environment).

What can you do to improve your diet and reduce your carbon footprint?

  • choose fish/poultry over beef/lamb
  • choose plant proteins over animal products
  • eat less food high in sugar/fat
  • avoid fried foods
  • limit your consumption of alcohol
  • eat more fruits, vegetables, legumes (lentils, beans, peas and chickpeas), nuts and seeds

How I choose to contribute

Personally, I skip breakfast as part of my intermittent fasting so I have only 2 meals a day (which is not recommended for everyone so make sure you talk to a dietician if you have any doubts). I have Huel for lunch (I love their coffee caramel black edition, I add matcha powder to it) and I eat mostly fish or poultry for dinner (more and more rarely red meat compared to before but it still happens occasionally).

I have nuts as a healthy snack and include a lot of fruits in my diet. Also, I don’t eat gluten anymore and avoid dairy products as my body doesn’t seem to tolerate any of these very well. Gluten-free & dairy-free diets are not always easy to follow but it also benefits the planet, not just me. Bearing in mind I want it to be a lifestyle I can adopt in the long run, not just a temporary measure.

Want to find out more?

If you want to read more on the topic, check out the links below:

What positive change for both your health and the planet have you made so far?

Big Girl x

Kids or No Kids? The Choice Is Yours to Make

Kids or No Kids? You Have the Choice!

“Do you want kids?” is not a question you hear very often, because people assume that of course you do. Instead, people say: “When you’ll have kids…”, “When you’ll be a mum/dad…”, etc. Every time it puts me in a situation where I either stay quiet and let go, or say that I actually don’t want kids. But why do I feel like I need to justify myself?

It’s OK to be different

When I was a kid, I didn’t ask myself such a question because I’ve always thought it was the right thing to do, the purpose of every woman, the reason we find a partner and get married… It’s only when I turned 30 that I realised my mum would have been pregnant for the second time by that age. And I didn’t feel like I was going to be ready myself anytime soon. I heard a lot of comments such as “You’re turning 30 now, the clock is ticking!” but deep down I think I already knew it wasn’t for me.

I didn’t know for sure until my little sister fell pregnant, almost 3 years ago. She announced it with pictures and I cried when I realised she was telling me she had a bun in the oven. I cried with joy, the news made my sister and her husband so happy. But it confirmed that it wasn’t what I wanted for myself.

It’s a choice, not a duty (anymore)

It’s not because you don’t want kids that you lack empathy… People who don’t feel any desire to have kids are not selfish or cold bastards, they don’t necessarily hate kids either. It’s an important step in your life but it is NOT mandatory, just like people who choose not to get married for example.

I think there are many parents who shouldn’t have been parents, many children grow up in a toxic environment and end up with mental issues for life. Have you ever noticed that most serial killers, psychopaths or very disturbed people in general had a chaotic childhood? It’s always parents’ fault, kids can’t be held responsible for their education. I’m not saying that I don’t want kids because I’m afraid they will be disturbed, I just don’t see myself being a mother. I have two cats and that’s the extent of my motherhood. It took me a very long time until I realised it was OK. I am allowed not to want what most people want.

Think about the future

I could go on and on about how I find the idea of having your own kids very narcissistic. Our planet is already overcrowded and there are a lot of kids to adopt, if you really want to fill that role. I am lucky enough to have found a partner who shares the same opinion. Choosing not to have any is our contribution for the planet to reduce our carbon footprint. The future of next generations seems a bit compromised at the moment anyway.

The choice is (only) yours

I’m glad I was born when I was born, because I feel like the choice NOT to have kids has only just started to be an acceptable one. It’s still a sensitive topic though, people can’t help but try to make me change my mind when I tell them I don’t want kids. What annoys me the most is comments such as “You still have time to change your mind!” or “You will feel it when the time is right”. As a piece of advice for you, reader, if someone close to you makes the decision not to start a family, respect their choice without questioning it. Not everyone has to!

So. Do you want kids?

Big Girl x