10 Ways to Recycle Christmas Trees

10 Ways to Recycle Christmas Trees

 

In the late 1800s, when decorating a tree for the holidays became popular,  evergreens were bedecked with such Earth-friendly decorations as strings of  popcorn, gilded nuts and luminous candles. Today, millions of people carry on  this tradition by bringing Christmas trees into their homes, adding an element  of splendor and festivity to their own celebrations — but also an element of  waste.

After the parties are over and the season has passed, the once-splendid  tree transforms into a browning living-room behemoth, and the job of disrobing  it of its trimmings and tossing it carelessly outside becomes just one more  household chore. Before you follow this unfortunate holiday tradition, take  heed: There are several ways to recycle your Christmas tree, giving new life to  both it and your New Year’s resolutions to live lighter on our planet.

1. Living Christmas trees that come with their roots intact  can, of course, be planted and enjoyed for many years. Pack the earth ball  containing the roots in a bucket with sawdust, potting soil or other mulch. Keep  the soil continually moist. Plant outdoors as soon as possible after  Christmas.

2. A whole Christmas tree makes an excellent bird feeder for your backyard.  Stick the tree in the ground or leave it in its stand. A wide variety of birds  will be attracted by suet, cranberry and popcorn strings, stale bread and dried,  chopped fruit in mesh bags. If you grow sunflower seeds, simply hang the whole  sunflower head on the tree. Your family will discover that chickadees, song  sparrows, cardinals and a host of other birds come for the food and stay for the  shelter.

3. Cut off all the branches and use the trunk to edge a garden. The trunk can  also be strategically placed in your garden as a resting spot for birds,  squirrels and other little critters.

4. Place whole evergreen boughs on perennial beds or nursery rows to protect  them from winter freezes and spring thaws. The boughs provide the steady  temperatures that most plants need. Or, just use the boughs as post-Christmas  house decorations.

5. Many communities throughout the country have tree-recycling programs, in  which trees are collected from residents and then chopped up and used as mulch  for plants in community parks and gardens. To find out if such a program exists  near you, call city hall. Or, have your tree chipped at a local garden center  and use it yourself for ground cover or mulch. (Or promise the gardener in your  life this belated gift!)

6. The trunk can be sawed into logs and burned in your fireplace. Note: Don’t  burn the branches, since they can send off sparks.

7. Both trunk and branches can be used by woodworking hobbyists to make any  number of items, such as Christmas reindeer, birdhouses, candlesticks or  paperweights. Feeling boldly confident? Try whittling your family portrait!

8. Use the needles to make aromatic potpourris and sachets to enjoy year-round. After  removing the decorations, strip branches of their needles, which will retain  their pungency indefinitely in brown paper bags.

9. If you still have your Christmas tree out in the yard when warm weather  appears, there’s still a use for it. If permitted in your community, burn the  branches and spread the ashes in your garden. The branches contain valuable  nutrients and minerals that can enrich the soil and help yield better flowers  and vegetables.

10. Last but not least: You can have a tree for the holidays without spending  money or needlessly destroying an evergreen if you make your own! (OK, so this  isn’t exactly recycling.) You may have plenty of evergreens in your yard in need  of pruning. Simply bundle a few large, pruned branches together and arrange,  tree-like, in a watertight container.

 

 

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