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12 Most Eco-Friendly Christmas Tree Disposal Options

Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree Many of us prefer the look and smell of real Christmas trees during the holiday season but aren’t quite sure what to do with them once it’s over. Before you put it out to the curb, let’s discuss some other great ideas that are more environmentally friendly.

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Before You Begin

Removing Ornaments
Image By: Patryk Dziejma, Stocksnap

Once it’s time to take the tree down, it’s essential to remove all decorations. The ornaments, tinsel, lights, star, and everything else must go. There are other ways to dispose of those items and leaving them on when they go to a recycling plant will cause them to go into the wrong bin, and your tree will not get the correct treatment.

Disposing of your Christmas Tree

1. Check with your local waste management company

Many people may not realize that most cities and towns have a system to eliminate Christmas trees. Usually, the trees picked up between certain dates are properly recycled, so this is the easiest method for most people. However, if you get rid of your tree early or keep it longer than most people, your tree may end up in the landfill, which is what we don’t want.  Most landfills cover the garbage, preventing air from getting to it, which means it won’t compost correctly.

Many municipalities like to burn the trees, which is bad for the environment because it releases dangerous carbon dioxide (CO2), so you’ll need to check yours and make alternate plans if they burn the trees. The one exception to tree burning is if you have your tree shipped in from another area. Some trees can harbor tiny insects even after a lengthy Christmas season, and if you mulch or compost the tree, the bugs can become an invasive species that damage the local habitat.

2.  Check for local mulching events

a pile of discarded christmas trees
Image Credit: Cory Seamer, Shutterstock

Many local hardware stores, lumber yards, and mulch companies hold events every year and let people bring their tree to be mulched, often free of charge. Mulching is a great way to recycle your tree and keep the dangerous CO2 locked away inside, extending your tree’s usefulness.

3. Compost it

If you have a compost pile, you can add your tree to it. If you do not have a compost pile, building one is not difficult, and it will help you properly dispose of many items besides your tree. Compost provides you with rich soil for a beautiful spring garden.

4. Mulch it

If you can’t find any public mulching sites or any friends that own a woodchipper, many of the larger hardware stores will allow you to rent one for a few hours. Renting is perfect if you have many other large pieces of wood on your property that you can mulch.

As we mentioned earlier, mulching keeps the carbon dioxide locked in the wood. The trees on Christmas tree farms store more than 80,000 tons of carbon dioxide each year, equivalent to the emissions created by 17,000 cars. Burning will release this CO2 into the atmosphere.

5. Put it in the woods

As long as you have permission, dragging your tree into the woods is one of the best things you can do with it. It will decay naturally and provide shelter to local wildlife for many years. You will need to drag it out of sight, but they aren’t too heavy, especially after it’s been drying for a few weeks.

6. Throw it in a lake

Image Credit: Mariamichelle, pixabay

Another environmentally friendly way to dispose of your tree is to put it into a lake. Like a few other methods, you will want to get permission first, and you will need a boat, but tying a rock to the bottom of a tree and drop it into a lake will provide a great living environment for the local fish.

7. Take it to the zoo

Zoos are on the decline, but if you have one in your area, it may be willing to accept your tree as a treat for many of their animals. Big cats like lions and tigers react to pine trees like housecats respond to catnip.

8. Replant it

When purchasing your Christmas tree, it’s a great idea to get one with a root ball. This root ball allows you to replant the tree after the holidays have passed. Most trees will come back and continue growing, even after several weeks.

9. Create a birdfeeder

Another great idea is to decorate your tree outdoors with food for birds. You can attach small suet cakes, fruits, peanuts without shells, bags of mixed seed, and more to the branches and secure the tree in the ground. The tree will provide excellent habitat for the birds and will supply them with plenty of food. You can refill it several times, and the tree will stay good in the cold weather. Once the needles fall off, you will need to use one of the other methods on this list to dispose of the tree permanently.

10. Garden supports

Image Credit: grmag

You can remove the branches and needles and the stripped twigs as supports for the taller plants in your garden. From a single tree, you will get more supports that you are likely to need, and they will often last many years.

11. Plant Protection

If you remove the branches and leave the needles on, you can use them to cover your dormant plants to protect them from freezing. The branches will keep the ground at a steady temperature and will help protect the plants from wind.

12. Make Bee Houses

If you choose to strip off the branches to protect your plants or for garden supports. You can cut the trunk into 1-foot lengths. In each end, drill several 4 – 5-inch-deep holes, which will act as bee houses in the spring. You only need to place them around your yard, and the bees will find them.

13. Buy an Artificial Tree

An artificial tree may seem like it’s not environmentally friendly. However, artificial trees can last a lifetime, and you can even pass them down or donate it to Goodwill. If you purchase it from Goodwill, you will already be contributing to improving the environment.

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We recommend going with the artificial tree because it’s the best way to ensure none of your trees get burned, thereby releasing carbon dioxide into the air or in a landfill where they will turn into methane. If you get a real tree, we recommend creating the outdoor bird feeder until spring and then using one of the remaining methods to dispose of the tree.

We hope that you have enjoyed reading and have found the perfect thing to do with your tree. If we have given you some new ideas, please share this guide to the 12 most environmentally friendly ways to dispose of your Christmas tree on Facebook and Twitter.

Featured Image Credit: AnnieSpratt , Pixabay


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