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Christmas tree disposal – Where to put the Christmas tree in an environmentally friendly and sustainable way?

If you need to dispose of a real Christmas tree after the holidays, there are some better and more environmentally conscious alternatives to the landfill. Millions of households and businesses say goodbye to their Christmas decorations by simply throwing it all away. However, real Christmas trees are recyclable and can easily be turned into wooden material that can be reused. Alternatively, you can transplant live Christmas trees so that you or someone else can enjoy them for years to come. So here are some common methods and tips you can follow for following the concept of sustainability.

How and where to dispose of or recycle an old Christmas tree?

choose a living fir tree as christmas tree in the forest before christmas

When you put up a Christmas tree, you bring a piece of nature into your home. Real or artificial, your green Christmas tree creates warm vacation cheer at a time when the woods outside have turned cold and brown. However, as soon as you unwrap the presents, throw away the leftovers, and safely tuck away the ornaments, your gorgeous display piece immediately turns to trash. This is a particularly big “garbage” item to deal with throughout the year. As with carbon, metal, and plastic, it can make a big difference to the environment if you would dispose of a Christmas tree by recycling.

sustainable concept environmentally friendly christmas tree disposal after the holidays

In addition, there are sufficient recycling services that can give an old Christmas tree new life. For example, the material can be used for nature reserve, on a sand dune, to protect the beach, for mulching or as a bird house. The key to sustainability, then, is reuse. For example, most trees today come from farms, so buying natural products encourages short-term reforestation. If not reused or recycled, trees can end up in landfills. This is costly to both the environment and taxpayers. Below are some useful options for disposal that would definitely make more sense.

Turn the used Christmas tree into mulch

dispose of christmas tree by practical reuse and turn it into mulch

Christmas trees are one of those rare cases where the most environmentally friendly disposal method can also be the easiest. Mulch, accordingly, could be the ideal fate for your tree. That’s because much of its carbon remains trapped in the wood, where it can return to the soil. Wherever you put it, you should remove any decoration in front of it. This does not contribute to the growth of the garden and poses a danger to animals. If you have a neighbor with a chipper, you can ask them to chop the old tree for you. Just be sure to apply garden lime to the mulch to counteract the acidity.

Go into nature and dispose of the Christmas tree in an animal-friendly way

ready to recycle environmentally beneficial dispose of an old christmas tree

Of course, if you don’t have access to a municipal recycling program or don’t have a garden, other options are available. Trees are biodegradable, and animals love conifers whether they are alive or dead. So drop off your Christmas tree in a forest and leave it where it came from. If you have a garden, you can also leave the tree stuck there for birds to enjoy. Old Christmas trees can even be thrown into a backyard pond or lake, reviving them. Trees sunk into private fish ponds are excellent refuges, breeding and feeding areas for fish. In this case, however, you should first check to see if the fish can live with them.

animal friendly dispose of a christmas tree outdoors during the winter season

For example, if you also live near a zoo, you can ask them if they would like a large and natural toy for their big cats. According to reports, lions and tigers respond to Christmas trees the same way their smaller cousins respond to catnip and will bat around the branches for hours. Just make sure you remove all ornaments, lights, and especially mistletoe before you abandon your tree this way. After all, these can choke or poison any animals that try to eat them.

Christmas trees as barriers to soil erosion or for hiking trails.

recycle old fir trees already after christmas or new year's eve to prevent soil erosion or for hiking trails

The useful woody material from an old fir tree, once chipped, can also serve as free, renewable, and natural trail material that meets both the environment and the needs of hikers.  People can also use Christmas trees to create effective barriers, primarily to stabilize lake and river shores and to manage land sedimentation in river deltas. On ocean beaches, trees can also be placed in sand dunes where they help anchor the sand in place.

Make birdhouses with Christmas trees

place unusable christmas trees in the garden as birdhouses with orange peels

Place the Christmas tree in the garden or backyard and use it as a homemade bird feeder, bird house and haven. Fresh orange slices or strung popcorn will attract birds and they can seek shelter in the branches. Again, make sure all decorations, hooks, garlands, etc. are removed. Eventually, usually within a year, the branches will become brittle and you can break the tree apart by hand or chop it in a chipper.

Dispose of live Christmas tree or replant?

plant low coniferous trees in the garden as a feeding place for birds in an environmentally friendly way

Of course, you could get a rooted tree next year and then plant it in your yard after Christmas. In this case, it’s a good idea to dig the hole in late fall while the soil is still soft. Then plant the conifer in that hole right after Christmas. Living trees have a better survival rate in mild climates than in northern areas. In any climate, a houseplant can be useful even in winter, especially in a small apartment.

What mistakes to avoid when disposing of Christmas trees?

do not dispose of a christmas tree in a landfill and reuse it through recycling

  • You should never burn your old Christmas tree in the fireplace or wood stove. Pines, firs and other evergreens have high levels of flammable turpentine oils. Burning the tree can contribute to creosote buildup and risk a chimney fire. Burning also sends the tree’s carbon back into the atmosphere, making burning a truly indecent choice when disposing of your Christmas tree.
  • Don’t let your Christmas tree end up in a landfill. Of all the places a tree can end up, a landfill is the absolute worst for the environment. While trees break down naturally, a lot of trash ends up underground where there is little oxygen. The bacteria that thrive in these places tend to convert the carbon in trash into methane, which damages global temperatures more than 20 times more than carbon dioxide. So before you have it picked up by the trash hauler, you can find out what they plan to do with your old Christmas tree. For example, some areas have a window of time where they mulch the plants as recommended. But if all else fails and you end up taking your tree to a landfill, try to make sure it ends up above ground.

live sustainably and use recycled wood materials from used christmas tree as building materials

In the grand scheme of things, Christmas trees are far from the biggest problem on the planet. However, if everyone gets in the habit of taking those trees to eco-friendly destinations after the holidays, they’re at least taking a step in that direction.