Oh, Christmas tree, oh, Christmas tree — how do we safely dispose of thee?
It’s a question many of us have. Luckily, getting rid of your evergreen is a fairly simple process.
Here are some ways to recycle or reuse your tree as a better alternative to the landfill.
1. Recycle Your Tree
Check with your city or town government for Christmas tree drop-off areas, which are often set up near recycling centers. Here, the trees are typically sent through a chipper to be used as mulch for parks and green areas. Some cities have designated Christmas tree pickup days and times, so make note of those. This removes the burden and mess of transporting it yourself.
2. Provide Shelter for Backyard Wildlife
You can leave the tree right in its stand, and set it out in the yard for the rest of the winter. It can fill in a bare spot, giving you something pretty to look at, but, more importantly, it can provide winter shelter for birds. If you have plenty of trees around, consider laying your tree on its side to provide shelter for mammals such as rabbits.
3. Fish Feeder
If you live near a lake or pond, consider dumping your tree into it. That old pine or spruce provides a natural and decomposing habitat for fish and will attract algae for them to eat. Some game and fishery departments will offer a drop-off service for trees that they will then use in community lakes and ponds. Just remember to remove all ornaments, hooks, and decorations before dropping it off.
4. Make Firewood
Because most evergreens are heavy sap trees, they work best for firewood when used outdoors. The sap is flammable and creosote build-up can pose as a threat when used indoors. Evergreens tend to burn hot and fast, making them ideal for bonfires.
Note: Trees with sap should be dried out a few months before cutting or burning to avoid a mess and an unruly fire.
5. Mulch with Needles
The most common use for your tree is to make mulch or compost out of it. Whether it’s with the woodchips or needles, mulch is a great way to keep your yard trees healthy and moist during the cold winter season. Pine needles are full of nutrients that enhance the PH of your soil if its more alkaline and allow your soil to breathe without becoming dense and compacted. Be sure to douse your pine needles with water and mix well in your compost pile.
6. Dune Restoration
Beach communities that have been decimated by storms and hurricanes have turned to old Christmas trees to help fight beach erosion and restore sand dunes. Christmas trees and their needles retain sand and vegetation against strong winds and provide cover for birds in the winter.
What if you got an artificial tree?
Real Christmas trees are always the best and greenest option, as opposed to artificial trees. According to Recycle Now, fake trees are made from a combination of materials and therefore cannot be recycled. If you do opt for artificial trees, however, make sure you buy one which can be reused every year. This will help to minimize waste and make your home more eco-friendly.
If you decide that you no longer want your artificial tree, consider donating them to a charity shop.