When It’s Time for Your Christmas Tree to Go. . . . .

     The time is drawing near for millions of us to say good-bye to the live Christmas tree that has graced our home during the Christmas season.  Typically, ‘old’ Christmas trees end up in the landfill.  But it doesn’t have to be that way.  Teresa O’Connor of seasonalwisdom.com offers eight suggestions for environmentally friendly things to do with a Christmas tree after the Christmas holidays are over:    

1.  Recycle it: Many communities across the United States offer recycling programs for properly prepared Christmas trees. Check with your local government or waste management companies for more information. Remember: trees that have been flocked, painted or fireproofed cannot typically be recycled. So, keep that in mind when you shop for a tree. Always, remove all ornaments, tinsel, nails and stands. If your tree is taller than 6 feet, cut it in half.

2.  Feed the birds: Before you recycle, set the tree in your back yard and decorate it with orange slices, cranberries or popcorn. The birds will love the winter feast. Just be sure to first remove all tinsel, lights and decorations.

3.  Chip it: Christmas trees can be run through a chipper or shredder to make mulch for garden paths. Chips also make effective bulk for compost piles. Again, be sure the tree has been stripped of decorations before you put it in the chipper.

4.  Mulch it: Remove needles and use as a layer of mulch in your garden. It’s a great way to conserve water and to fight weeds. The needles are especially appropriate for acid-loving plants. Use the stripped tree to later support climbing beans or sweet peas.

5.  Protect wildlife: Have a big yard? Consider leaving the tree outside to decompose naturally. These trees provide valuable wildlife cover for birds, rabbits and other small animals. Over time, trees decay and add nutrients to soil.

6.  Smell it: Use aromatic needles in potpourri. Combine dry, crumbled needles with whole cloves, broken cinnamon sticks, dried orange peel and orrisroot. Add several drops of fir, cedar, orange and/or cinnamon essential oil(s). Keep covered for at least a week so scents blend. Stir regularly. Display in bowls or make scented pillows.

7.  Take a bath: Soaking in a pine-needle-infused bath is popular in the European Alps. In fact, pine is widely used for muscle pain, rheumatism and circulation problems, according to “The Herb Society of America’s Encyclopedia of Herbs and Their Uses” (Dorling Kindersley Publishing, 2001).To make a soothing pine-bath concoction, gently boil 1/2 cup of washed needles in 2 1/2 cups of water, covered, for 20 minutes. Strain. Pour needle tea and 1 cup of Epsom salts in hot bath. The needles, meanwhile, can be scattered in your garden.

8.  Make a massage oil: For a homemade remedy for aching bones, infuse pine needles in oil.Fill a glass Mason jar with washed needles and sweet almond oil. Close tightly and place in a sunny spot. Allow to steep for at least three weeks. For stronger oil, steep longer. Use as a bath oil.Caution: Never use trees that have been sprayed with fire retardant or other artificial substances in bath tea or oil. Ingredients listed here are safe for most people, but always check for skin sensitivities.

2 Responses to “When It’s Time for Your Christmas Tree to Go. . . . .”

  1. Joan Brundage Says:

    We have always had an artificial tree. Although this may seem crass, we feel better knowing that we have not had a tree that took years to grow, cut down to give us pleasure for a few weeks. Artificial trees can be very realistic looking these days and one can spray them with pine scent if one wants the pine scent. Also, you save a lot of money and aggravation in dropped needles and tree disposal afterwards. I much prefer going out into nature among the living pine trees for my Christmas treat!

  2. Kathy Fitch Says:

    This is our third year with a live christmas tree (they don´t sell cut trees here in Spain). Makes it very heavy to transport, so it’s not as big as the trees we used to get in the US. But after the holiday, it gets planted in the garden of our apartment complex, a daily reminder of holidays past!

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