Now it’s the season for resolutions and that dreaded ceremonial putting away of the decorations. Maybe you went a little overboard this year with tinsel and artificial snow. Maybe you forgot to water your tree the past few
weeks days and suddenly your floor has taken on a green shag appearance. Don’t worry, we’ve all been there–or are currently there and procrastinating dragging the tree corpse to the road.
Speaking of tree corpses, have you ever wondered what happens to your Christmas tree once January hits and everyone’s a little less holly jolly? If you celebrated with a real tree this year, you have more options than you might think.
Did you know that real Christmas trees are recyclable?! So don’t just throw it in the trash! Check to see if your town has curbside pickup for discarded trees. If they don’t pick them up, look for tree drop-off locations–many counties offer this service for free. Often these collected trees are chipped and shredded to be turned into mulch.
Some communities also re-purpose Christmas Trees to make effective sand and soil erosion barriers. When Hurricane Sandy hit in 2012, hundreds of old Christmas trees were used to help build new sand dunes at Island Beach State Park in New Jersey.
If there are no pick-up services near you and/or you don’t want to take it somewhere yourself, you can always cut the tree up to fit in your yard waste container. If you compost, you can also add your tree to the pile. However, the needles do take a long time to break down, as can the trunk. If you do decide to compost the tree, cutting or shredding it will help a lot.
Animals can have a lot of fun with your old Christmas Tree (and I don’t just mean the squirrels who may have once inhabited it, either). If you want to turn your previous indoor decoration into a useful outdoor decoration, you can place your old tree in your backyard as a bird feeder and animal sanctuary. To keep it festive, you can string fresh orange slices and popcorn on the branches to attract birds. Your tree could then provide some birds and small mammals with some good winter shelter. When spring comes around, you can always chop up the now-brittle tree and mulch it, compost it, or, if you’re feeling particularly crafty, grab your tools and make something fun (like a bird feeder out of pieces of the trunk).
If you want to get a little more exotic with your Christmas Tree giving, some zoos accept donations of old trees to give to the animals! The trees can provide a treat for some animals to nibble on or for other to simply play with. You can turn your Christmas Tree into a snack for giraffes, zebras, camels, goats, and elephants, or an extra special play thing for baboons, bears, large cats, and chimps.
Not every zoo accepts Christmas Trees donations, so be sure to check before you make plans to do so! Perhaps a local farm or animal sanctuary may take your trees, so be sure to look around.
Sarah is a content writer and social media assistant with a BA in literature/creative writing from Wilkes University. When she’s not spending her days at work writing, reading, and drinking coffee, she’s usually at home reading, writing, and drinking coffee. She also devotes a fair amount of time to HGTV, drawing, and doting on her dog. As a creator, Sarah believes in emphasizing personality through design and DIY projects.