5 Ways to Recycle Your Christmas Tree

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MIKE BENTLEY/ISTOCKPHOTO

For many of us, decorating a Christmas tree is our favorite part of
the holiday season. If you’re one of the more than 30 million
people who put up a live tree this year, you might want to consider
extending its usefulness once the season ends. Instead of tossing
your perfectly shaped pine or fir into the garbage where it will
only end up in a landfill, try one of these creative recycling
avenues:

1. Throw it in the water. Christmas trees make great habitat
for fish. Just toss it in your pond or stream. If you don’t happen
to have a fishin’ hole on your property, contact local conservation
groups. In many areas, they’ll pick up the tree and toss it into an
appropriate pond or stream for you.

2. Keep it on your land. Trees can provide lodging for all
kinds of critters besides fish. If you have a suitable place on
your property to let a tree decompose, it can become a nursery to
insects, fungi and possibly even amphibians and reptiles. Or
consider keeping it in its stand and placing it out of doors as a
bird sanctuary; it will provide our feathered friends much-needed
protection from wind and cold. You can even enjoy a second round of
decorating by adorning the tree with enticing bird food:

  • Suet smeared in the branches
  • Pine cones coated with peanut butter and bird seed, then hung
    from branches
  • Strings of popcorn, cranberries or raisins wrapped around the
    tree
  • Hanging fruit slices

3. Use it in the garden. Trim branches off and place them
over perennial beds to reduce frost heaving caused by freezing and
thawing. Then use the trunks to create sturdy, homemade trellises
or tomato stakes.

4. Toss it in the stove. Use a few dry branches as kindling
to start your fires.

5. Keep it in your community. Many communities have tree
recycling programs that turn everyone’s old trees into valuable
mulch. If you are unable to try any of the above ideas, contact
your Public Works Department to find out if they will collect trees
curbside or from a central drop-off location. Or visit
Earth911.org to find a local tree
recycler.