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Eco-Friendly Solutions for Your Christmas Tree After the Holidays

An old real Christmas tree in a bin
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Your real Christmas tree really made a statement over the holiday season. The lights, the baubles and the mountain of presents underneath. But now that the presents are unwrapped and put away and the needles are dropping, it’s time to deal with that tree cluttering up your living room.


Let’s take a look at some of your disposal options. Note, though, that some of these solutions are time-sensitive.

Christmas trees at a recycling centre
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Recycle It

Many municipalities, like Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver, make recycling Christmas trees easy by offering pick-up and drop-off services. They’ll take the tree off your hands and recycle it into mulch, compost or wood chips. Pick-up and drop-off dates vary, so be sure to confirm dates before putting your tree out on garbage day or dragging it to your recycling centre.

Be sure to remove decorations, nails, stands and any plastic wrapping before recycling your tree. And be aware that some municipalities require you to cut your tree into pieces for curbside pick-up, so be sure to check first.

Related: Secrets of an Eco-Conscious Homeowner We Should All Adopt

Person cutting a tree for firewood
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Cut for Use as Firewood

If you don’t have a pick-up or drop-off option and you have a firepit, a simple alternative is to chop your tree up and use it as firewood. Evergreen trees burn hot and fast, so the logs you cut won’t last very long. The needles can be composed, although they take a long time to break down. If you plan to burn your tree, ensure it’s dry. Drying can take up to six months, so you’ll have wood for the summer. After burning, save your ash to use as a fertilizer for your garden and flower beds. You can also add ash to your compost.

Related: Now’s the Time to Get That Firepit


Wildlife Habitat

If you have a good location in your backyard, you can stick your tree in a corner to use as a natural habitat for woodland creatures. Make sure your tree is free of decorations, and then sit back and watch birds, squirrels and other animals hang out in their new oasis. You can hang feeders to attract more birds, although you may not want to do this if you have cats! If you do have cats, they’ll appreciate a place to sharpen their claws and laze in the sun.

Related: 10 Ways to Create a Backyard Oasis for Birds, Bees and Everything in Between

Person holding a bough
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Insulate and Protect Perennials

If you’re cutting up your tree to use as firewood or to dispose of easily, save those big evergreen boughs for your garden. They make excellent covers to protect your perennials and garden beds from harsh winter weather. When spring rolls around, you can chip the branches and make your own mulch.

Related: How to Protect Outdoor Plants and Trees From Frost and Freeze

Cross-section of a tree used as a coaster
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Get Crafty

If you search online for Christmas tree recycling projects, you’ll find all kinds of ideas for transforming your tree. One example is drink coasters. Simply cut the trunk or thick branches into cross-sections. For a rustic look, use the slices as is. If you want to get fancy, stain them and give them a coat of varnish. You might even write the year of the tree on each coaster.

These ideas will help ensure your live Christmas tree is disposed of in an eco-friendly way. But if you really want to reduce the environmental impact of having a live tree, there are some options to keep in mind for next year.

Consider renting a tree that can be planted after you return it. If you’re thinking about adding an evergreen on your property, buy a small tree with roots, stick it in a pot, place it outside in a planter after the holidays and then transfer it to the ground once the weather warms up. Remember that artificial trees aren’t an eco-friendly answer as they’re generally not recyclable.


Related: Are Artificial Christmas Trees More Eco-Friendly Than Real Ones?

Choosing one of these options for your tree is an excellent way to help the environment long after the holiday season has passed.

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