Recycle, Recycle, Recycle
Christmas trees are a renewable, recyclable and biodegradable resource.
Real Christmas trees are completely renewable. For every one Christmas tree that is cut down, two or three more are planted. It takes about 7 to 10 years for that tree to become mature enough to be harvested. During that time, that tree provides for the cycle of life; taking in carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. Once that tree has adorned a home, it can be used as a source of fuel for heating homes and businesses. The ashes can then be spread in fields for fertilizer, thus starting the cycle of life all over again.
Real Christmas trees reduce the amount of waste in landfills and dumps. Because they are 100% biodegradable, real trees will naturally go back to earth. They can be mulched, burned as fuel or used as habitat for wildlife. Real trees don’t end up in landfills for centuries on end, thus reducing waste.
The best way to avoid needles on your floor when the season is over is to place your real Christmas tree in a biodegradable tree removal bag. Place the bag under your tree stand when you set your Christmas tree up. You can hide it under your favorite tree skirt. When the holidays are over, pull the bag up and around your tree, stand and all and carry it outside. Be sure to remove the stand before recycling the tree!
Other Recycling Options
Curb-side pick-up for recycling - most areas will collect trees during their regular pickup schedules on the two weeks following Christmas. There are often requirements for size, removing of ornaments, garlands and flocking.
Take your tree to a drop-off center - most counties have free drop-off locations.
Tree recycling/mulching programs - tree recycling and mulching programs are a fast-growing trend in communities throughout the nation. Check with your local department of public works for information. They chip and shred the trees, then make the mulch available for use in your garden.
Nonprofit pickup - call for an appointment to have a nonprofit pick up your tree for a small donation. So support a local Boy Scout Troop and make a donation!
Soil erosion barriers: Some communities use Christmas trees to make effective sand and soil erosion barriers, especially for lake and river shoreline stabilization and river delta sedimentation management. Read about how Christmas trees are helping the sand dunes in New Jersey recover from Hurricane Sandy.
- Fish feeders: Sunken into private fish ponds, trees make an excellent refuge and feeding area for fish.
- Bird feeders: Place the Christmas tree in the garden or backyard and use it as a bird feeder and sanctuary. Fresh orange slices or strung popcorn will attract the birds and they can sit in the branches for shelter. (Make sure all decorations, hooks, garland and tinsel strands are removed). Eventually (within a year) the branches will become brittle and you can break the tree apart by hand
or chip it in a chipper.
See this article from Perdue University for more information.
- Mulch: A Christmas tree is biodegradable; its branches may be removed, chipped, and used as mulch in the garden.
Paths for hiking trails: Some counties use the shredded trees as a free, renewable and natural path material that fits both the environment and the needs of hikers!
Living, rooted trees: You can get a rooted (ball and burlap or containerized) tree and then plant it in your yard after Christmas. (It's a good idea to pre-dig the hole in the late fall while the soil is still soft, then plant the tree into that hole immediately after Christmas.) Living trees have a better survival rate in mild climates.