Every year, Americans purchase 25 to 30 million real christmas trees, according to the National Christmas Tree Association! But that isn’t the bad news. Most experts agree that a real tree is the more eco-friendly option. As trees grow, they provide habitats for wildlife and clean the air. Christmas trees are also 100 percent biodegradable and recyclable. If disposed of properly, they can give back to the environment long after Christmas is over.
One thing not to do is cut it up for firewood. Unfortunately they don’t make good firewood. The chemical creosote builds up in the wood. While they do burn extremely hot, they can also send dangerous sparks flying!
Are you afraid of having a real Christmas tree, or mini “Hannukah bush.” even if you know these facts, because you’re afraid it will end up in a landfill? Here are 10 things you can do to get rid of that tree in an eco-friendly way:
1. Replant It
If your tree has a root ball and you have a backyard with room, the best option is to replant it as soon as you can. This will allow it to continue to grow, providing another, or new, home for backyard wildlife.
Many different Christmas tree varieties, such as the Norwegian Spruce or Fraser Fir, are pretty resilient. They’ll likely recover quickly, even with droopy branches.
2. Turn the Whole Thing into a Bird Feeder
Even without roots, your tree can be beneficial to backyard critters.
Stick it outside a window. String it with popcorn, cranberries, stale bread, dried fruit–even whole sunflower heads! In no time, chickadees, sparrows, cardinals, among other backyard birds, will find a tasty snack. They’ll also appreciate shelter from the cold.
(You can hang items from your tree with a recycled or organic lanyard.)
3. How to Make a Stump Bird Feeder
Don’t want a dying Christmas tree handing out in your yard all winter long? We don’t blame you. If this is a puzzle, because you still want to feed birds, you can make stump bird feeders.
If you cut the trunk into pieces, they become resting places and natural bird feeders with little work. You can leave some seeds on top, or if you remember to flip that stump every day, you’ll reveal insects and worms–a bird’s favorite!
4. Using the Branches in Your Garden
You can use trimmed Christmas tree branches, needle free of course, in your garden as support sticks.
Plants such as legumes, which includes beans, peas, and peanuts, are “thigmotropic.” This means that their growth is directionally based upon touch. They often need support to help them grow upwards towards the light and not lean. Christmas tree branches are perfect for this, since the knobs, twigs, and texture will give your plants much to cling to.
5. Protect Your Flowers from Frostbite
If you cut whole branches off of your tree, and place them over perennial flower beds, you can protect your plants from frostbite. This will help the soil maintain an even temperature and make sure your plants look healthier next spring.
(If you have a green thumb and don’t know what to plant, seed paper is a fun way to turn a reusable paper item into wildflowers.)
6. Save the Bees
Orchard mason bees rarely sting and are great pollinators. However, these fuzzy insects don’t live in nests, like other bees. They live in holes, but they don’t drill them themselves. They prefer existing holes found in wood.
To help save the bees, cut part of your tree into logs or blocks. Next, drill holes about 3 to 5 inches deep. Be careful not to drill all the way through. Lastly, scatter these bee houses throughout your yard and watch your new neighbors move in.
7. Make Clean Pine Scented Incense
Gather up all of the green pine needles on your floor, or strip the branches. Break them up–halves work just fine–and boil them in a pan ½ to ¾ full. Once the mixture begins to bubble, after about 30 seconds to 1 minute, reduce the heat to low and allow your mixture to simmer for several hours. This will fill your home with the scent of pine, and none of the ash incense leave behind will be present. It’s the perfect way to say goodbye to the holidays.
You can also customize and enhance this mixture with other favorite holiday scented items, such as cinnamon or cranberries.
There are lots of arts & crafts that parts of the Christmas tree can be used for. You can even get a start on next year’s holiday presents and decorations.
Thin slices of the trunk make great coasters; thick ones can be sanded and smoothed into cutting boards and serving trays.
9. Donate It to a Recycling Center
Looking for a local program where your tree can be recycled and put to good use is a perfectly fine option.
In some places, the trees are sunk into artificial lakes to create temporary fish shelters. In other locations, like Louisiana, donated trees have been used to create soil and sand erosion barriers, helping stabilize lake and river coastlines. You may even be able to give your tree to your local zoo. They let the animals play with them.
If you own a wood-chipper, most of your tree can be turned into mulch. Mulch is not only decorative but also biodegradable.
If you don’t own a wood-chipper, don’t worry. Lots of places have tree-recycling programs where they’ll mulch your tree for you. They’ll then use these chips for community gardens, flower beds, and park trails. Sometimes, you even get a bag of chips to take home in exchange for your donation. (Make sure the bag is eco-friendly also.)
You can check your local department of public works for information and locations.