The Season May Have Passed, but Christmas Trees Still Have Something to Give


The question always comes up each Christmas season, most often at season’s end shortly after New Years. “How can I recycle my Christmas tree?”

The question comes from people who want to do the environmentally the right thing, or maybe they’re just sad about taking a tree that gave them such beauty and joy during the season and throwing it in the trash. Recycling is a much better choice by extending the value and purpose of the tree beyond a few weeks.

As it turns out, there are many ways a recycled Christmas tree benefit can benefit us, society and nature.

Before we start listing the ways your Christmas tree can be recycled, however, here’s one very strong warning on how not to reuse your tree. DO NOT BURN YOUR TREE IN A FIREPLACE OR WOOD STOVE. You could burn your house down. A pine or fir tree burns so hot it will damage the firebox and chimney. Even a few pine branches can create a fire so explosive that it can shoot fast burning sparks out of a fireplace and across a room, or onto your roof to set shingles on fire. So don’t burn your tree, ever.

Ok, now that we got that out of the way, here are some safe and valuable ways to recycle your tree. With any of these options, make sure you remove all decorations and tinsel first.

Curbside recycling pickup

Most cities and towns these days will pickup Christmas trees during regular schedules for a couple of weeks after Christmas to take them to a recycling center. You also may be able to drop your tree off at a central  location. Your community’s department of public works can give you information. The department will chip and shred the trees to use in public landscaping or to use as natural base for hiking trails.

Use for mulch

Some communities are taking their recycling efforts a step further and offering the mulch they make from the tree available for your use. If you have access to a wood chipper, you can remove the branches from the tree and chip those into mulch. Many chippers meant for residential use, however, may not be able to handle the tree trunk.

Bird feeders

Here’s an easy one if you really don’t want to part with your tree so soon after Christmas. You can place your tree in a garden and back yard to use as a bird sanctuary and feeder. Strung popcorn or fresh orange slices will attract birds, and they’ll use the branches for shelter as long as all the decorations are off. Within a year, the branches will turn brittle and you can break the tree apart by hand or chip the branches in a chipper.

Fish feeders

If you have a private fish pond, you can sink the tree into the pond to make an excellent feeding and refuge area for fish.

Shoreline barriers to halt erosion

If your community is located along a lake or river, it can lay old Christmas along the shore to protect against soil erosion and build up sand dunes. Thousands of Christmas trees were used along the New Jersey shore to build up dunes battered by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

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