Your Christmas tree has served you well during the Holiday Season, but it’s time to take down the tree. What do you do with it? If you have an artificial tree, you fold it up and put it in a storage bag or box until next year. If you have a real tree, it can continue to serve you or the community well after it leaves your home.
Here are 10 ways to recycle your Christmas tree:
Curbside pickup: Many cities across the U.S. offer curbside pickup for old Christmas trees. These cities mulch the trees and use the mulch in city parks or bag it and give it to citizens.
Drop your tree off at a designated communal collection point: Not all towns have curbside pickup but most have a drop-off point. As with curbside pickup, these trees are then shredded into mulch for use by the city Parks and Rec department.
Mulch it for your personal use: If you live in a warm climate, you can grind the tree right after the New Year and spread the winter mulch to protect the ground from soil erosion due to heavy rains. If you live in a cold climate, you can place your Christmas tree in your yard to provide shelter for small animals until spring arrives, and then mulch it for use around shrubs and trees. As mulch decomposes, it releases nutrients into the soil.
Create a protective layer for outdoor plants: Rather than mulching your tree, remove the branches and use them to create a protective layer from heavy snow for shrubs and perennials in your yard. Over time, the branches will decompose and, like mulch, add nutrients to the soil.
Create a birdfeeder: Place your tree—stand and all—outside. Hang bird feeders from the limbs, fill them with black-oil sunflower seeds and watch the birds flock to it. Black-oil sunflower seeds are a great winter food for birds because they are high in fat so they provide energy.
Cut your tree up and use it for firewood.Use as fuel for power plants. In some parts of the country, trees are ground down to wood chips and the chips are used as boiler fuel to power factories, as is the case in our neighboring state of Wisconsin.
Control erosion: Coastal regions of the U.S. use whole Christmas trees to prevent beach erosion, marsh erosion and to slow the movement of saltwater into freshwater areas.
Create fish habitats: Whole trees that are submerged in lakes and ponds serve as fish habitats. They provide protection for small fish and offer a protective environment for fish to lay eggs.
Replant your tree: This choice needs to be made ahead of time because you’ll need to buy a tree with its root ball intact and care for it during the holiday season. When you’re ready to replant the tree, make sure the root ball is still intact before digging a hole. Flocked trees cannot be recycled. Contact your trash removal company to see if they will dispose of your tree or if you need to take it to the dump yourself.