It's the most wonderful time of the year for most people, however, it's not always a wonderful time of the year for our planet. With all of the buzz around the holidays, it's easy to forget about sustainability and things like recycling. Luckily, recycling can be part of your holiday plans, too—starting with your Christmas tree (if it's real, that is).
Christmas trees are an excellent source of renewable resources that can benefit local wildlife, soil, and charitable organizations. Just remember to remove all lights, ornaments, and hooks before donating or recycling your Christmas tree.
Donate Your Tree
Many local non-profits take Christmas tree donations and then reuse them for projects in the community. If you're unable to drop off your tree, check with your city and see if there's a program in place for removal. Some cities have tree pickup services available for two weeks following Christmas.
Make A Natural Fish Habitat
Try dropping your tree in a lake or pond. Christmas trees are perfect for fish because they promote algae growth (food) and provide a nice little place to hide. Just be sure to remove all hooks, lights, and decorations first! Think of the fish: if your tree contains any preservatives or chemicals, don't use it for this purpose.
Make A Bird Feeder
Are you a nature enthusiast? You might be a bird watcher in the making if you re-purpose your tree as a bird feeder. Once you've removed all of the decorations, place your tree outside and wrap it with string laced with bird-friendly food (such as unsweetened popcorn, fruit, nuts and seeds). Local birds and other small critters will be grateful for the extra food and shelter during the colder months of the year.
Use It As Mulch
One of the easiest ways to reuse your Christmas tree is in the garden. Tree branches make excellent mulch because they dry out quickly and decompose slowly. Their needle-like shape allows them to bond together, making them less likely to wash away like other mulches. You can also take the stump and have it ground up into chips and spread it across your lawn for additional mulch.
Christmas trees make excellent firewood, but only for outdoor burning. Because the branches are highly flammable, it’s unsafe to burn them indoors. A mere spark sent across your home could quickly turn into a blaze. Also, remember to let the tree completely dry out before burning it. Lastly, always check if your tree has been chemically treated. If so, don't attempt to burn it.
Make Wooden Coasters
It may sound odd, but why not use the stump of your Christmas tree to make coasters? If your tree is large enough, you can make several and give them out as DIY gifts. There are many great tutorials online such as this one that show you step-by-step how to make coasters yourself. Because they'll be exposed to moisture from beverages, it’s a good idea to apply a natural wood preserver in order to keep the water from damaging your new coasters.
Make A Wreath And Other Decorations
Ready to get crafty? Making a wreath or other household decorations is a fun and simple way to extend the life of your tree.
Buy Live, Potted Christmas Trees Instead
Did you know you can buy potted Christmas trees that can then later be replanted in your yard? Why do more people not doing this? Not only will it benefit your soil and provide safety for animals, it will add more natural beauty to your yard or garden. This could be a great new tradition to start with your family—instead of cutting down a tree every year, try planting one. This way, everybody (including the environment) wins.