With the fun and excitement of the holidays behind us, it’s time to do what seemed unthinkable only a couple weeks ago–unstring the lights, remove the ornaments, and figure out what to do with the Christmas tree. If you have an artificial one, the solution is simple: pack it away for next year. If, however, you are one of the 30 million households that have a real evergreen, consider disposing of your holiday treasure (“It was the best tree ever, wasn’t it?”) in a way that will not only be earth-friendly, but useful. For the record, a tree carted off to a landfill will take up a lot of space–and for quite some time, since the lack of oxygen makes decay a painfully slow process.
The solution: Treecycling. Most communities around the country have a Christmas tree recycling program in place where discarded Christmas trees are chipped into mulch for gardens (including yours) or shredded for use on paths and hiking trails. In areas where soil erosion is an issue, discarded Christmas trees can be effective sand and soil barriers and help aid sedimentation management. You can even put the tree in the backyard to become a bird feeder and sanctuary or, if you have a fish pond, submerge it where it can serve as an excellent refuge and feeding area for fish.
Where to begin? The National Christmas Tree Association–together with Earth911.org, a Scottsdale, Arizona-based conservation group–offer a zip code locator to help you find a suitable treecycling solution near you. Check it out and start the New Year off right–and green!
For more on sustainability, consider: