Here’s how and where to recycle your Christmas tree


This year and any year, when you throw away your tannenbaum, don’t think of it as a garbage can.

Recycling programs for raw-cut Christmas trees have grown dramatically over the past two decades, and more cities and counties are offering – and even preferring – pick-up or drop-off recycling programs. rather than stuffing trees thrown in garbage cans or cluttering the sidewalk. Trees can clog garbage truck compactors or clog landfills before they slowly decompose.

β€œHaving a living tree during the holidays is a great way to celebrate the season, and knowing how to recycle them afterwards is a great way to celebrate the Earth,” says Dan Lambe, president of the Arbor Day Foundation. β€œWe hope to encourage people to discover different ways to have a positive impact on the environment by recycling their trees. “

β€œHaving a living tree over the holidays is a great way to celebrate the season, and knowing how to recycle them afterwards is a great way to celebrate Earth. ”

The traditional living tree is a relatively expensive holiday addition to start with, so it makes sense to expand its use: for your own garden; community hiking trails; comfortable nurseries; or even as a source of food for farm animals – and adventurous human diners, as this quirky restaurant trend reveals.

The National Christmas Tree Association (NCTA) expected about 46.9% of US households to buy a Christmas tree in 2021. In total, we probably spent $ 6.1 billion on some form of evergreen. this year, paying an average of $ 83.39 for each real tree and $ 118.08 for each artificial tree.

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Many communities will advise you on smarter ways to dispose of your raw-cut Christmas tree, or living wreaths and garlands. In fact, local ordinances and facilities can vary widely, so it’s best to research specifics in your area – for example, here’s what St. Louis, Chicago, New Orleans, Boston, and Washington, DC are offering this year. .

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New York City, for its part, has implemented a ritual of reusing Christmas trees, promoting “Mulchfest” through its lists of festivals. Many parks are participating, so it becomes more and more convenient to find a friend and walk your tree to the collection point. The resulting mulch is used in city parks and some places offer take-out bags.

β€œInwood Hill Park is right across the street, and Mulchfest still smells good,” says a colleague in the newsroom. “They scatter most of the mulch around the park, so it smells like Christmas trees when you walk there for weeks.”

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It’s also important to remember what to avoid when throwing out your tree. Be courteous if you share a garbage and recycling area i.e. don’t restrict other people’s access with your scrapped 8ft foot. And never burn your Christmas tree in a fireplace or wood stove. The sap may flare up, but there are other reasons.

Consider these tree recycling options (provided by NCTA and gardening and nursery experts):

Curbside pickup for garbage or recycling: Many vendors will be picking up trees during regular pickup times for the two weeks following Christmas. The NCTA has more than 4,000 such recycling programs across the country. There are often requirements for size, removal of ornaments, flocking, etc. Your carrier will notify you of pickup dates in your area, or be sure to check yourself, as dates may be limited.

Take your tree to a drop-off recycling center: Most counties and cities have free drop-off points. Often you can bring up to two trees to one location at no cost.

Tree recycling / mulching programs: Check with your local public works department or park department for more information. These services often shred and shred trees, then make the mulch available for use in your garden. The mulch itself is a natural weedkiller that reduces the use of chemicals.

Non-profit withdrawal: Some Scout troops, schools, or other charities may fundraise with a small donation pickup service.

Leave your tree as it is, for a bird feeder: Place the intact Christmas tree in the garden or backyard and use it as a bird feeder and sanctuary. Fresh orange slices or strung popcorn will attract birds, and they can sit in the branches for shelter. Make sure all decorations, hooks, garlands, and garland strands are removed. Eventually, usually within a year, the branches will become brittle and you can either hand break the tree or machine shred it.

Start a new compost pile: A layer of thin, evergreen branches provides a solid base for a new compost heap, a home repair and design site, advises The Spruce. Branches allow air to circulate at the bottom of the pile, but keep in mind that branches will decompose more slowly than smaller organic material. Simply cut the branches to fit in your bin and stack them four to six inches high. Then start adding your kitchen scraps and other compostable items.

Community spirit

Barriers against soil erosion: Some communities use Christmas trees to create effective barriers against sand and soil erosion, especially for stabilizing lake and river shores and managing river delta sedimentation.

Fish feeders: Sunk in private or public fish ponds, the trees provide excellent habitat and feeding grounds for fish. In fact, these created “reefs” act as protective nurseries where small fish can take refuge.

Trails for hiking trails: Some areas use ragged trees as a free, renewable, natural path material that helps the environment and meets the needs of hikers.

Feed for farm animals (with authorization): Pine needles contain small amounts of nutrients, antioxidants, minerals, and fiber. It is also a natural dewormer. Goats, in particular, are fond of fir trees. Massachusetts-based Channell Homestead has a few tips: make sure trees haven’t been sprayed with pesticides or fire retardants; the tree must be alive because goats and other farm animals will not eat dead trees; and make sure every last piece of garland or other decorations is removed.

Roots and all? A thought for next year

Live and rooted trees are another consideration, although planning and muscle are required, so don’t look for a real β€œliving” tree on a whim.

In this case, buyers get a rooted tree (in a ball and burlap or container), decorate it for indoor use during the peak holiday season (note some gardening professionals say to limit this. time indoors to about two weeks, shorter than the time most cut trees are in place), then plant the tree in the yard. Replanting is an opportunity for families to extend their holiday joy and learn more about tree species and gardening.

In cooler climates, it’s a good idea to dig the spot in late fall while the soil is still soft, and then plant the tree in that hole immediately after Christmas. Living trees brought from indoors to outdoors have a better survival rate in mild climates. About eight in ten trees survive when planted outdoors after Christmas, according to Virginia-based Meadows Farms. They offer more advice on planting, including adding a “saucer” sled under the heavy tree for easier mobility from outdoors to indoors and back.

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However, some experts say that the “green” impact of an uncut Christmas tree on a cut tree is not as cut and dried as you might think.

Most of the 15,000 Christmas tree farms in the United States are family owned. So when you buy a real cut Christmas tree, you are supporting local economies and contributing to a $ 1.3 billion per year industry that provides over 100,000 jobs, according to industry data. Plus, these farms always replant, which adds more carbon-absorbing trees, even for their relatively short lifespan. CL00 carbon emissions,
+ 0.25%
are of course one of the main drivers of global warming.

And there is more to consider.

β€œThe cut tree is planted as a small, low-impact seedling, grown for about seven years, harvested and trucked to market,” Rob Moody of Moody’s Nursery and Garden Center told Bangor Daily News in Maine. β€œA living tree is grown from a low-impact seedling, harvested with specialized equipment, trucked to a retailer. [and] less trees per truck can be trucked at a time, then specialized equipment is used to unload it, [which is a] greater impact ”on the carbon footprint.

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