Mulch Love: Recycle Christmas Trees


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Christmas Tree Recycling
Creative Commons License photo credit: dmjarvey

Why continue pining for a way to recycle Christmas trees when we’ve got the answers fir you?

Instead of sending your Christmas tree to a landfill or dumping it somewhere after the holidays, use these handy recycling tips.

According to the National Christmas Tree Association, 30-35 million Christmas trees are sold each year. It is pretty lame that after Christmas, millions of trees end up in landfills or illegally dumped on public property. One of the simplest concepts is that real Christmas trees can be put in your yard waste or compost bin if you have one. Many cities ask that the tree be chopped down so it at least fits well enough in the bin and you are able to close the lid, and of course be free of ornaments and tinsel. Check what guidelines your city has in place.

‘Tis the Season for Recycling: Uses for Retired Christmas Trees

Many cities collect Christmas trees and recycle them into mulch. Your town might be able to utilize chippings from mulched trees for local trails and gardens. Mulch helps prevent weeds from growing and provides nutrients to plants as it breaks down. If you live near a river or by the coast, Christmas trees alongside the bank become a great way to prevent erosion. Keep your eye out for these types of collection programs near you.

Recycling Christmas Trees
Photo Credit: The National Christmas Tree Association

With enough trees, consider selling the mulch as a fundraiser, and many Boy Scout troops will promote that they recycle trees for this purpose, sometimes even planting a few new trees as well. Money raised goes towards things like trips and upcoming summer camps. For example, Scouts in Springfield, Missouri, have a way of recycling Christmas trees that might seem kind of fishy…throwing them in a lake! Since 1986, the Ozarks Trail Council Boy Scouts have teamed up with Bass Pro Shops to collect trees and haul them to Table Rock Lake.

The Missouri Department of Conservation joins up with volunteers to then dunk the trees at sites designated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. As the reservoir ages, trees provide woody cover for all species of fish. Over 250,000 Christmas trees have been recycled through this unique program!

Christmas Trees Are Elephant Food

What else happens to old Christmas trees? They can provide quality noshing for elephants, sheep, deer, and camels! Even goats enjoy Christmas tree foliage as a change from their usual diet of hay. Check out this super cute photo taken at Germany’s Zoo in Dresden for some evergreen noshing.

Other local zoos provide old Christmas trees as animal food, so see if that’s the case near your city. Nom nom nom!

The Sweet Smell of Reuse

Saving the needles to create potpourri is another reuse idea. By New Year’s, the branches are probably already dry, so just remove them (or collect them off the floor) and crumble the needles. The needles can then be blended with cinnamon sticks, whole cloves or other comforting scents. This mix can be stored in a jar or small cloth sachet, which also makes a nice gift.

TIP: Add one cup of water to one-fourth cup potpourri and heat it on a stovetop or in a potpourri heater to fill your space with yummy Christmassy smell.

Christmas tree farms are a large part of the economy in some places (hello, Oregon!). Next year, instead of cutting a tree down, consider buying a potted tree from a local farm to plant after the holidays.

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