Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree… How Do I Recycle You?

There is no fresher scent or better aesthetic for the holidays than the adorned boughs of a real Christmas tree. It is time to think about how to properly move on with the rest of winter after the gifts have been unwrapped. Luckily, there are multiple options for easy recycling since real (not fake) pine trees are biodegradable. The tree can even “live” on even after the holidays with another purpose.

Before you stuck a star on top of it in the middle of the living room your Christmas tree came from the Earth. It only makes sense that the tree would go back and give back to Mother Earth.

Christmas Tree Reuse & Upcycle

Here are a few common options for recycling after you clean off the holiday decorations:

Fish Food

It may sound weird, but fish love Christmas trees as much as you do. If you have a private pond with fish in it, sink your Christmas tree for an area of refuge and feeding for the fish.

Bird House

Repurpose your tree into a shelter and natural feeder for birds. Place the tree in the garden and swap out the ornaments for fresh oranges, a strand of popcorn, and seed balls. This option helps to feed the birds through the winter when food sources are less prevalent. The branches will become increasingly brittle over the course of the year and you can break the tree down by hand or use a chipper.

Garden Growth

Your garden is going to be in need of some tender tending to come springtime. The garden is a perfect second home for a Christmas tree. Run the branches through a chipper after removing them from the tree to cut them down for garden mulch

Plant Roots

A Christmas tree doesn’t have to leave you after the halls are decked and then undressed. Plan to get a rooted tree next winter if you want to add the tree to your yard. Late in autumn, while soil is still soft, dig a hole. Right after Christmas take your rooted tree (it will have a container or burlap material around the roots) and plant it in the hole. (Note: the National Christmas Tree Association suggests that living, rooted trees have a higher chance of replanted success in mild climates.)

Christmas Tree Recycle

In the Des Moines metro there is a great service-supported initiative to help you sustainably remove your tree.

Christmas tree laying in snow

Curbside Compost

This year Metro Waste Authority’s Winter Compost It! Collection will run January 2 through January 13, 2017. The time period is perfect for recycling your live tree and any other winter yard waste. (Wreaths and garlands are not included.) MWA made it super easy. All you have to do is remove all decorations and attach a green Compost It! Sticker that can be found at various hardware and grocery stores across the metro area for $1.25. Place the tree at the curb at least three feet from the recycling and garbage carts. Finally, ensure the Compost It! sticker is visible from the street. Check MWA’s site to see if your community is participating in the collection.

The one thing you should never consider as a sustainable, safe option is burning your tree in a fireplace of wood stove.

Since Christmas is all about giving, sustainably recycling your real Christmas tree is one final gift you can give to yourself and the environment!