When I was a kid, I used to feel sad for Christmas trees. I thought it was such a shame that perfectly gorgeous trees were sacrificed so that we could have holiday decor. And, before I knew much about sustainable living, I bought my first Christmas tree – an artificial one with the lights already on it.
Now, I know fake trees are not the environmentally-friendly option, but I’ve kept mine because I don’t want it to end up in a landfill. The damage has already been done because I now own it. This year, because so many of the pre-strung lights were burnt out, Mr. President and I spent hours taking all of them off and replacing them with strings of LED lights.
If I had it to do over again, I would opt for a real Christmas tree. Christmas trees are sustainably farmed on land that is often ill-suited for growing food or anything else. While they are growing, they prevent erosion, clean the air, and provide habitat for many kinds of birds.
As if that’s not enough, recycling Christmas trees is easy and is just one more way to make your holidays a little greener.
- Mulch and compost – If you have a wood chipper, you can easily chop up your Christmas tree and use it as mulch for your garden. The mulch will help control weeds, improve your soil and control erosion. If you don’t have a wood chipper, simply cut the branches off and lay the green ofery on top garden beds. Many municipalities will pick up your tree after the holidays and compost it for you. Simply wrap your tree in an old blanket to neatly transport it outside.
- Fish habitat – Christmas trees can be deposited into lakes and ponds to create shelter and habitat for fish. Just make sure you get permission if the pond doesn’t belong to you!
- Bird feeders – If you’re not quite ready to mulch or compost your tree, give your backyard birds their own Christmas present. Prop the tree up in your yard and adorn it with yummy bird treats like suet balls, fresh orange slices, nut clusters, and strings of cooked popcorn. The tree will also provide them shelter and you’ll enjoy the show for months. The tree will eventually become very brittle and can be mulched or composted any time.
- Garden stakes – Repurpose Christmas tree trunks and use them as garden supports for growing tomatoes or climbing annuals like morning glories.
- Plant it – Consider purchasing a rooted tree in a container that you can plant outside in your yard after Christmas. This option is best if you live in a milder climate. Be sure to dig the planting hole in the fall, when the ground is still warm.
- Rent a tree – Available in only a couple parts of the country, this cool program allows you to pick up a potted Christmas tree, decorate it for the holidays, and then return it to a local nursery. The trees are either planted as part of urban reforestation projects or reused for several holiday seasons. Check out the Living Christmas Company for more details.
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