Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree, How Recyclable are Your Branches

by Angela on December 10, 2010

Did you know that North Americans produce 25% more waste during the holidays, which equates to about 25 million extra tons of garbage going to our landfills?!  I read this on Whole Foods’ website and was shocked.  Then I felt guilty because I know for a fact that I contributed to this number last year when a good portion of my paper products did not make it into the recycling bin.  So as we approach the end of the year, we thought we’d try to research and give everyone some ideas on how to make this holiday a much greener holiday for all of us.

Today we’ll talk about Christmas trees.  I personally have an artificial one, but for several years we did buy a real tree every year.  After the holidays were over, we’d place the tree curbside, the trash service would take it away, and I wouldn’t have another thought in the world about where it went or what was done with it.  I just wanted the falling pine needles out of my house!  About 50 million trees are sold each Christmas with about 30 million of them going straight to a landfill…ours most likely being one of them. 

So how do you go about recycling a Christmas tree?  Our trash service does a special tree collection right after the holidays and I called to confirm that they do indeed take them to a place to have them mulched into wood shavings for use in local parks and forests, as long as the tree is put out on those designated days, otherwise it goes with the regular trash.  But if you don’t have a trash service that does this or you missed the designated tree collection days (please call to confirm), go to your local county website and search on Christmas tree recycling locations.  I did a quick search on my county as well as Deena’s county and both sites gave about five different drop-off locations for tree recycling after the holidays.  If you can tie that tree onto your rooftop to bring it home, well you can tie it on your rooftop to preserve our planet, it’s as simple as that. 

When recycling a tree,

Do not place the tree in a bag.

Remove all decorations and stands.

Do not decorate with tinsel as this is hard to remove and it cannot be ground for mulch.

If you buy a live, potted tree, plant it in your yard or your neighbor’s yard after the holidays.  (I’m obviously kidding about the neighbor’s yard, unless of course they truly want it).  Just be sure to dig the hole before the ground freezes!

If you are buying an artificial tree, do not get one made out of PVC, which is a toxic plastic (see Deena’s recent article on plastics).  PVC is rarely recycled because of toxins that can be released during the process.

Stay tuned for next week’s greener wrapping ideas!  Ho, ho, ho, Merry Greener Christmas!

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