Decorating for the holidays is a fun way of getting into the spirit of the season, but once the holidays end, the teardown begins. If you’re one of the many people who buy authentic trees every December, you’ll want to ensure you further reduce your carbon footprint by properly recycling yours. There are multiple ways to recycle your tree, so give one of these a try when the time comes to say goodbye to the holiday season.
Mulch your tree
Mulching your authentic tree is one of the best options for recycling it since your yard and garden will benefit from your efforts. Mulch made from these trees will insulate and provide moisture to your plants in the winter months. Mulching is easy if you happen to have a wood chipper on hand, but, fortunately for the many of us who don’t, many towns around the US have a postholiday mulching event, so do a quick online search to find one near you. As an alternative, you can break off the pine needles and cut the tree branches into mulch-sized pieces that you can then sprinkle on your yard and garden for added insulation. Breaking up your tree is also a rather cathartic way to say goodbye to the sometimes stressful holiday season.
Create a shelter for wildlife
Trees make for great shelters for animals that live in your backyard. If you have the space to keep your Christmas tree in your yard, you can watch as wildlife flocks to it in the coming months. You can make it into a bird feeder and shelter, or, if your property already has a lot of trees, lay it down for ground-dwelling wildlife. Though it can take upward of a year, the tree will eventually dry out enough for you to easily break it down.
Use your tree for outdoor firewood
It’s very important to note that real Christmas trees should not be used for firewood inside your house. The evergreen’s wood is full of sap that will coat the inside of your chimney in creosote, a highly flammable and combustible substance that can increase the chances of a chimney fire. However, you can use the trunk and branches in an outdoor firepit to keep you warm while you’re enjoying the winter weather.
Make air fresheners
One of the best benefits of having an authentic tree during the holidays is the great pine smell. It fills your home with a wonderful scent, so it can be hard to say goodbye to it once the season is over. If you want to have the “tree smell” in your home all winter long, you can cut off branches and needles that are still healthy and place them in little fabric bags around your house. You can even mix them with other winter scents like cinnamon and clove to keep your home feeling warm and welcoming.
Compost your tree
If you already have a compost pile or bin, you can add your real tree to it once the holiday season is over. You’ll just want to be sure to strip the tree of as many needles as you can and cut it down into smaller pieces since it would otherwise take too long to break down. The compost will ultimately provide your yard and soil with great nutrients and minerals.
Reuse the trunk
You can use the trunk of your tree for wood crafts both inside and outside your home. Consider transforming it into decorative items like coasters or ornaments for future holidays. You can slice the trunk into smaller circles, sand down all the sides and surfaces, and coat the circles in a water-based protective sealant. You can also use the trunk as a natural garden edging material. After removing the branches, simply lay the trunk down on its side or cut it into smaller pieces that you can place around your garden.
Make your tree a fish feeder
While this option isn’t available to everyone, if you have a pond or lake on your private property or happen to know someone who does, you can drop your real tree into the water. The trunk will weigh down the tree, keeping it on the floor for the fish to enjoy. It will provide any nearby fish with a shelter and will eventually grow algae that the fish can then feed on.
Take the tree to a recycling center
If none of the recycling options listed above are right for you, you can check with your local municipality for curbside recycling pickup for authentic trees. Many recycling programs will pick up the trees during their regular schedules or will dedicate a day to picking them up after the holidays. If your town doesn’t offer curbside pickup for trees, you can wrap the tree in an old blanket and take it to a recycling center near you.
Authentic Christmas trees are 100 percent recyclable, so it’s important that you take the time to make the most of the organic material once the holidays are over—just be sure to remove all the decorations from your tree before you recycle it!