With Christmas just 100 days away, it’s time for families to get their festive planning underway and think about the centrepiece to their home – the Christmas tree.

For many households, deciding whether to opt for an artificial tree or a real one is one of the key decisions you’ll have to make. The best choice for your home and the environment, according to the British Christmas Tree Growers Association, is a freshly grown tree.

In the UK it’s estimated that eight million real Christmas trees are bought every year, with two million fake trees being purchased. Studies show that a real tree is five times more environmentally friendly than an artificial tree. One reason for this is that Christmas trees improve air quality. Every acre of Christmas trees grown produces the daily oxygen for 16 people and a hectare absorbs six tonnes of carbon dioxide each year.

Most artificial trees are made of metal and plastics, typically PVC, and are non-bio-degradable. Considering most of these trees are manufactured in the Far East, transporting them to the UK adds to the trees’ carbon footprint.

There are also the aesthetic benefits of showcasing a real Christmas tree in your home, as Roger Hay, secretary for the BCTGA, explained: “A freshly grown British Christmas tree adds something really special to your home – from its beautiful foliage to its festive scent.

“Studies have shown that just looking at a tree can reduce stress levels and this is particularly helpful around Christmas time, when the pressures of shopping, cooking and entertaining guests can take its toll.”

Although Christmas is three months away, it’s best to consider your Christmas tree purchase sooner rather than later, to ensure you don’t miss out on your perfect tree. For families who want to handpick their own tree, it’s best to make a trip to a local choose and cut farm at the end of November to select a fresh tree that’s harvested there and then.

The BCTGA was established in 1979 to provide a quality standard for Christmas tree growers in the UK and champions the purchase of real Christmas trees. The association re-launched its website last month. The site now features a range of useful resources including tips on caring for a Christmas tree, a guide to different species of trees and a search facility to locate wholesalers and retailers across the UK.

For more information about the BCTGA visit www.bctga.co.uk or twitter.com/bctga.