Monday, December 26, 2011

Breaking up with Christmas

Christmas is over, and now we are left wondering when we should take down our decorations.  Like an awkward breakup, part of us wants to linger in the good feelings and keep the mementos of the holidays around for just a bit longer.  Then there's the other part of us, that is so ready to move on from the holidays that we want to purge everything that reminds us of the holiday ASAP.  Well, whenever you are ready to take that big step and move on from the holidays, your Christmas tree doesn't have to go in the trash; instead consider recycling, or treecycling it!  There are many uses for your old Christmas tree that benefit the environment.  If you search online, you'll find a host of great and creative suggestions, but I thought I'd highlight four of my favorites here.  

Some Christmas trees are sunk in lakes to act as habitat for bass.  In the picture below, members of the Army Corps of Engineers is preparing to sink donated trees using cinder blocks.

If you'd like to enhance your own backyard habitat, prop your tree up using a makeshift stand or by sinking it into the ground or alternatively, you can just lay it directly on the ground.  Birds will use the limbs (with or without needles) as shelter and if you have bird feeders, you may find an increase in your visitors thanks to the extra shelter and safety from predators you have provided.
A female house sparrow enjoying her new Christmas tree perch
(and yes my fellow ornithologists, I know it's an invasive species, but it's the only applicable picture I could find)

Donated trees are used not just to create habitats, but to protect them as well.  A barricade of Christmas trees can act as an effective means of protecting areas such as shorelines and sand dunes from erosion.

If you had a really rough breakup with Christmas and you feel the need for massive destruction, rent a wood chipper and shred that puppy to bits.  Then you can use it as wood chip mulch to spread under trees and shrubs.  The acidity of the wood and needles prevents most weeds and other plants from growing (the next time you are in a pine forest, look directly beneath the tree; you won't see much growing there!).
That's right little penguin-thingy, just kill the tree 
and keep telling yourself that everything will be ok.

There are many other ways to put that old Christmas tree to use, and many will be specific to the area in which you live.  In order to find out your local options, just do a Google search for "Christmas tree recycling" and the name of your city.  If you are served by Waste Management Inc. you can visit the website for your local office (enter in your zip code here) and even see if your town does curbside pick up of trees!  Whether you are wishing you and Christmas could be together just a little bit longer or if you are so over Christmas, you can give away your tree memento with no emotional baggage attached, knowing it will be put to good use. Just remember, there are other Christmases in the sea and thanks to you, a tree in the lake as well.


  1. I plan to put mine out in the backyard to shelter some of the small birds in the area. Thanks for the great suggestions!

  2. That's great! I'd love to see some pictures if you'd like to share them. (then maybe I can replace that picture of the darned house sparrow) You can email me at katie Thanks for reading! :)

  3. Waste Management also takes Christmas trees, but we suggest cutting yours in 4′ lengths and tie it into bundles less than 2′ wide, and perhaps even placing it inside your yard waste container.Trees must be free of flocking, tinsel, ornaments and metal hangers, cut to 4′ lengths and tied into bundles less than 2′ wide.Use biodegradable string or twine – no nylon, plastic or other synthetic materials.Flocked trees are not recyclable and will not be accepted – put flocked trees in the garbage.