Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Recycle Your Christmas Tree To Keep On Giving

According to the Christian liturgical calendar, Christmas only begins on December 25, lasting through January 5.  There are twelve entire days to celebrate.  Then the Feast of Epiphany is celebrated immediately, remembering the Wise Men.  What a great way to banish the after-Christmas blues!

With Christmas officially ended, you might be wondering what to do with your Christmas tree.  Rather than pile it in a sad curbside heap destined for the landfill, recycle it for the happy benefit of others.  Here are a few ideas.  Your options may vary depending on your locality and circumstances.

1.  Have a bonfire and invite friends to gather around and sing.  But you'll need more than a dried Christmas tree to keep it going.  Unless you add some material with longer burn times, you won't make it through the first verse of We Three Kings.  Some will argue that burning your tree is not environmentally responsible, but judging from the weather forecast for the next couple of weeks, we could use a little warming.

2.  Many municipalities and businesses establish collection points where they accept your tree.  Some have machines set up, process your tree on the spot, and return it to you as a bag of mulch for your garden or compost bin.  Others take the trees to a permanent facility for chipping and use the finished material in parks and playgrounds.

3.  Provide shelter for wildlife by toting your tree to the back of your property and leaving it there.  Birds and small mammals will appreciate the cover it provides.  For good measure, you may hang fruit and bird feeders from the boughs to attract your avian friends.  Remember, this is a time for feasting.

4.  Cut branches off the trunk and use them in your perennial garden to help support taller plants such as delphiniums.  Position them so they form arches.  Your perennials will grow through the branches.

5.  Boughs can also be used to protect tender plants from cold weather.  Positioning them so that they form arches, straw and dried leaves can be laid on top until spring thaw.

6.   If your circumstances do not permit you try options 3 through 6 above, check with a community garden project to see if they could use your tree for those purposes

7. Submerge it in your pond or lake.  The sunken tree will provide shelter and attract food for many species.  Some municipalities collect trees and sink hundreds of them into public lakes to create fish habitat.

8.  If you live near the sea, check with your local beach authorities to see if they use old Christmas trees for erosion control.  Many do.
9.  Similarly, recycled Christmas trees may be used along lakes and rivers to prevent shoreline and river bank erosion.

I'm sure there are more ways to recycle Christmas trees than these, but I hope this presents you with some options you hadn't thought about before.

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