The most eco-friendly ways to reuse or recycle your Christmas tree | The Optimist Daily
Today’s Solutions: June 21, 2024

Now that we’ve wrapped up the holiday season, the question remains: what to do with the Christmas tree? No matter if your tree is live, recently cut, or artificial, it should be a top priority to consider the greenest way to reuse or recycle the tree for the sake of our environment.

Live trees

The most environmentally friendly trees on the market are the ones that are still living. These can be purchased already sitting in their pot, or they can be dug out of the ground. If you have one of these trees, then what you do with it after the holiday season is up to you.

If you have a small tree, then consider repotting it in a larger pot with some compost to help nourish it so that it can last throughout the year to be used again next Christmas. If you think that the tree is already quite sizeable and will likely not be fit to use next Christmas, then it might fare better as part of your garden. Just remember to think about how large the tree will be when it reaches its full size before selecting a location.

If you don’t have the means to support the live tree in a pot or as part of your landscaping, then offer it up to someone who can give it a permanent home.

Cut trees

It’s not uncommon for households with cut trees to simply push the tree out of sight (and out of mind) once the holidays are over—but it’s best to decide what to do with it now instead of waiting until you rediscover it during spring cleaning.

Most cities will offer a curbside recycling service that will pick up trees in the weeks that follow Christmas. If your city does this, then you can put your tree along with other waste and recycling until mid-January. These trees are delivered to a local industrial yard debris processing center where they get turned into bark chips or compost, giving your tree a full life cycle.

If your community doesn’t offer this service, then process your own tree by cutting its limbs into small pieces for your compost if you have one. You can also place the smaller pieces of the tree into your yard debris bin. The trunk of the tree can be cut into sections to be used for campfires. Before burning them, make sure these sections sit for a season to cure. It’s also worth keeping in mind that evergreens are high in sap content so are best burned outside rather than in a fireplace or woodstove.

If you live in a rural area, then smaller sections of your tree can be allowed to break down naturally in the woods. If you have a lake or pond nearby, you might be permitted to sink the tree in the body of water to provide a habitat for the aquatic life there (just remember to check with the local land management organization).

Another fun way to repurpose a cut tree is to use its material to fashion gifts or home décor. You can use the wood to make coasters for your dinner table, ornaments for next year, or any other practical or decorative piece for your office or bedroom!

Artificial trees

Artificial trees are generally quite difficult to recycle, however, the best way to handle them is to ensure that they last as long as possible so that you can use them for many years to come. Check out this article we shared that has plenty of practical tips for keeping your artificial Christmas tree in tip-top shape. If you really want to use another tree next year, then consider donating it to a local thrift shop or offering it to other people in the community before placing it in the waste pile.

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