How to recycle a Christmas Tree

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Recycling your Christmas Tree makes your money go further instead of lugging the dessicated thing out into the front yard and letting the council (or the squirrels) take care of it. In recent years, though, “recycling” natural trees-that is, turning them into compost or using them as firewood-has become increasingly popular. Here’s how to go about it.


How to recycle a Christmas Tree

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Recycling your Christmas Tree makes your money go further instead of lugging the dessicated thing out into the front yard and letting the council (or the squirrels) take care of it. In recent years, though, “recycling” natural trees-that is, turning them into compost or using them as firewood-has become increasingly popular. Here’s how to go about it.


Feed the tree to your compost pile. No, you can't just throw a whole Christmas tree onto a compost heap and watch it disintegrate in real time. What you first need to do is reduce the tree into compost-friendly shavings, which can be accomplished either by hand (if you have the time, and if the tree is fairly small) or with the aid of a shredder. You'll still have to be patient, though, because it can take up to a year for a compost heap to digest a pile of wood chips.


f you don't happen to have a compost heap, don't fret-the odds are that your town sponsors some kind of "Mulch a Tree" program. Usually, this will involve taking the tree to a designated drop-off site, where it will be mulched along with other trees and used in gardens or parks. Some towns may even offer to pick your tree up, so check your local resources on the web.


If you (or your kids) can't bear to mulch the family Christmas tree, consider placing the tree in your backyard, to serve as a shelter for birds or rabbits. Depending on your tolerance for furry li'l varmints, you may want to decorate the tree with popcorn or breadcrumbs-think of it as wintertime squirrel buffet.


It's also possible to (partially) recycle your Christmas tree by raiding it for floral arrangements-clip off a few limbs and stick them in flower pots (along with other plants), or use the needles in a pine-scented potpourri. You'll still have to dispose of the main trunk, but at least the rest of the tree will live on in some useful way.


Finally-considering the cost of heating fuel-you may simply want to chop up your tree and use it as kindling or firewood. Remember, though, that the tree will have to be properly dried first, and that some kinds of Christmas trees burn better than others-pines and evergreens, for example, combust very quickly, and the boiling resin in their wood can cause loud pops and crackles.


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