How to Recycle and Re-Use Live Christmas Trees
The holiday season is over, the relatives have finally departed, and you’ve started to dread the leftovers that now lurk ominously in tupperware at the back of the fridge. The time has come to take down all the lights, ornaments, and decorations from around the house and Christmas tree, but you may be left wondering what to do with your live Christmas tree.
Your tree brought you and the entire family so much joy this year and you don’t just want to throw it in the garbage. But “nothing lasts forever”, as the old adage says, and more than 25 million live Christmas trees purchased each year in the United States. As pine needles dry up and interminably scatter throughout the house, the memories of the holiday celebrations turn into a realization that you want to keep your house clean. The good news is that live Christmas trees are readily biodegradable – as long as they are exposed to oxygen and not buried in a landfill. Live Christmas trees can live a prolonged life as mulch garden beds, barriers against floods, and more.
Don’t throw your live Christmas tree away to be lost in a landfill. Here are some ideas on how to recycle and reuse your tree.
This is the most convenient option. Most areas will collect trees during their regular pickup schedules on the weeks following the holidays. There are often requirements for size, flocking, removing ornaments, etc. Boy scouts and other non-profits also offer pickup service for a small donation.
Recycling Center Drop-Off
You can also take your tree to a drop-off recycling center. Most counties have free drop-off locations throughout their jurisdictions, at no charge. Check with your local public works department for information.
Tree Recycling and Mulching Programs
Throughout the nation, tree recycling and mulching programs are a growing trend in communities. They chip and shred the trees, then make the mulch available for use in your garden. A hauler will notify you for pick-up dates in your area.
Some communities use live Christmas trees to make effective sand and soil erosion barriers, especially for lake and river shoreline stabilization and river delta sedimentation management. Live Christmas trees are also free, renewable and natural path material for hiking and biking trails that fits both the environment and the needs of hikers.
Re-Use At Home
You can sink your live tree into a private pond for refuge and fish feeding areas. If the tree is small enough, you can also place it in the garden or backyard and use it as a bird feeder and sanctuary.
Never burn your live Christmas tree in a fireplace or wood stove. Pines, firs, and other evergreens – the most common types of Christmas trees – have a high content of flammable turpentine oils. It may contribute to a creosote build-up and risk a chimney fire.
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