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Eco-Friendly Options for Disposing Your Holiday Tree


The winter holidays are a wondrous time of celebration, but if we aren’t careful they can also be a time of extreme waste. Between packaging, wrapping paper, and decorations a lot of disposable garbage can end up in landfills, but with eco-friendly choices and a focus on conservation you and your family can celebrate winter holidays while preserving our environment.

holiday tree on the curb

One particular item that can really take up space in a landfill is a holiday tree. Of course, you can’t simply throw a large tree in your recycling bin, so what can you do? Here are some options for eco-friendly disposal, whether you opted for an artificial tree or a real one:

Artificial Trees

  • Artificial trees, if still functional, can be donated to a variety of places so the plastic isn’t sitting in a dump for hundreds of years. You can donate your artificial tree to a local elementary school – many schools accept artificial holiday trees to decorate classrooms, and to serve as props in school plays and productions. Be sure to call the schools in your area to verify that they accept artificial tree donations.
  • You can also choose to donate your artificial tree to a local senior living facility. Donated trees can liven up the lobbies and common areas, providing holiday cheer to seniors during a time when their family may not be able to visit. Smaller trees can be used in a resident’s own room for added holiday cheer.
  • A third option for donating your artificial holiday tree in an eco-friendly manner is to donate it to a charity or thrift store so another family can use it next year. Always contact an organization to ask if they accept trees before packing the large box in your car.

Real Trees

  • Real trees can be reused in numerous ways. One popular use for disposed holiday trees is for fish and wildlife habitat in manmade lakes and ponds. When we create lakes they have no natural features along the bottom, meaning that baby fish and amphibious creatures have nowhere to nest, hide, or explore. Contact your local Department of Conservation to inquire if they accept real tree donations for this purpose.
  • If you own a fireplace you can keep your holiday tree and use it for firewood. First, remove the branches, and then saw the trunk in appropriate size pieces to use in your fireplace. If you’ve never chopped a trunk of a holiday tree before consult this article for wood splitting tips. If allowed in your neighborhood you can burn the branches and spread the ashes in your garden to provide valuable nutrients to your plants.
  • Many cities and counties provide a tree pick-up service so your holiday tree can be converted into mulch for the plants in community gardens and parks. In order to utilize this service you only need to contact the organization responsible for pick-up and schedule a time for them to collect your holiday tree. To learn if this service is provided in your area call your local parks and recreation department.

While this may be a season of increased consumerism your family can easily limit your waste with a few easy steps. Recycle or dispose of your holiday tree using one of the methods outlined above.

You can also buy a living holiday tree – follow best care practices and keep the soil constantly moist with filtered water and you can plant the tree in your backyard after the holidays!

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