Original blog post from www.housekeeping.org
Opting for a real Christmas tree lends a delicious and seasonal scent to your home that an artificial tree simply cannot replicate. Unfortunately, a real tree can’t just be shoved into a box to await its triumphant return at the end of the year. If you’re Christmas tree is still hanging around long after the season ends simply because you aren’t sure how to dispose of it in an ecologically responsible manner, these nine solutions can help you get your home back to normal, so that you’re not the last family on the block with the sad remnants of a once-beautiful tree languishing in your living room.
- Check for Curbside Services in Your Area – If your community offers curbside recycling pick-up services, there’s a good chance that they will also accept discarded Christmas trees during at least the first two weeks of the New Year. Checking with any existing facilities in your area is the most effective way of determining whether or not this is an option where you live. Be aware before you drop your tree on the curb, however, that almost all curbside pick-up services will require that all lights, tinsel and ornaments be removed as a condition of pick-up.
- Big Box Retailers – Some big box home improvement chains like Home Depot offer free recycling for your Christmas tree at the end of the season, provided that you’re willing to drop it off yourself. As with most recycling options, you will need to be sure that any lights, tinsel or decorative flocking has been completely removed before you drop the tree off.
- Brush Pile Roosting Area – If you’re a bird-watching enthusiast, few recycling options for your old Christmas tree will be as appealing as the idea of creating a brush pile for birds to roost in. Sparrows, finches and other small birds will seek shelter from bad weather in the branches of your Christmas tree, providing them with safety and you with plenty of opportunities to watch them flit about.
- Make Mulch – As long as all of the remnants of your tinsel or decorations have been removed from your Christmas tree, it is a completely biodegradable structure. It will also make great mulch for your landscaping and gardening needs, provided that you have access to a wood chipper.
- Let it Sleep with the Fishes – Film noir references aside, a Christmas tree actually makes a great habitat for fish when it’s sunk to the bottom of a lake or pond. When your tree is nestled in the deep waters, fish and other marine wildlife will be able to create habitats within them. Shallow wetlands can also benefit from tree placement, as they provide barriers against soil erosion. Before sending your tree to public shore through, you’ll want to be sure doing so is not against the law in your area.
- Planting – While it won’t be an option if you chose to purchase a real tree that was cut down, ball-and-burlap trees are designed to be replanted at the end of the holiday season. To boost your tree’s chances of survival and ensure ease of planting, it’s wise to pre-dig your hole in the autumn, before the ground freezes.
- Non-Profit Pickups – Most non-profit Christmas tree pick-up programs are sponsored by scouting groups like the Boy Scouts of America, who will usually pick up old Christmas trees during a designated period after the holidays for a donation of around five dollars.
- Create a Soil Erosion Barrier – If you live on a shore line and are concerned with soil erosion, your Christmas tree can provide an effective barrier against the problem. Coastal and waterfront communities often use old Christmas trees specifically for this purpose, so check to see if such programs exist if you’re not living directly on the water yourself.
- Donate Your Tree – Municipal programs that accept donated Christmas trees at the end of the season typically turn them into mulch for park landscaping, cover for hiking paths and other sustainable, ecologically sound products. Looking into the programs that exist in your area can help you determine whether or not donating your tree is an option and figure out the logistics of completing the donation if such programs do exist.
However you choose to recycle your Christmas tree, be sure that you’re following all local ordinances and guidelines or that you have permission to leave it on someone else’s property. Even if you’re trying to provide a roosting place for the birds or a habitat for the fish, property owners aren’t likely to take kindly to an unceremonious dumping of a discarded tree on their land or in their pond. For more information visit www.goodhousekeeping.org
Ted Ning is renowned for leading the annual LOHAS Forum, LOHAS.com and LOHAS Journal the past 9 years Ted Ning is widely regarded as the epicenter of all things LOHAS leading many to affectionately refer to him as ‘Mr. LOHAS’. He is a change agent, trend spotter and principal of the LOHAS Group, which advises large and small corporations on accessing and profiting from the +$300 billion lifestyles of health and sustainability marketplace. The LOHAS Group is a strategy firm focusing on helping companies discover, create, nurture and develop their unique brand assets. For more information on Ted visit www.tedning.com