Every year, there are hundreds of millions of real Christmas trees sold in the world. And the debate continues whether it’s more sustainable to buy a real tree or a fake tree. Fake trees can be used year after year, while a real tree is cut down, can only be used once, and then discarded. So why would anyone want to cut down more trees?
Most real Christmas trees are grown on farms, like crops, for the specific purpose of being harvested as Christmas trees. Every time a real Christmas tree is bought, a new one is replanted on the farm. Very few Christmas trees are removed from forests, and those that are, are often strictly regulated.
Real trees are more sustainable because they are biodegradable, unlike plastic trees which fill landfills and cause more harm than good to the environment. Plus, Christmas tree farms provide many of the same benefits as community trees and forests; cleaning the air and water, removing carbon, stabilizing soil, and more.
One of the other benefits of a real Christmas tree are the different ways you can recycle it at the end of the season.
Here are some of the ways you can reuse or recycle your Christmas tree long after the season is over.
1. Recycle Your Christmas Tree
Check with your city or town government for Christmas tree drop-off areas, which are often set up near recycling centers. Here, the trees are typically sent through a chipper to be used as mulch for parks and green areas. Some cities have designated Christmas tree pickup days and times, so make note of those. This removes the burden and mess of transporting it yourself.
Because most evergreens are heavy sap trees, they work best for firewood when used outdoors. The sap is flammable and creosote build-up can pose as a threat when used indoors. Evergreens tend to burn hot and fast, making them ideal for bonfires.Bear in mind that trees with sap should be dried out a few months before cutting or burning to avoid a mess and an unruly fire.
The most common use for your tree is to make mulch or compost out of it. Whether it’s with the woodchips or needles, mulch is a great way to keep your yard trees healthy and moist during the cold winter season. Pine needles are full of nutrients that enhance the PH of your soil if its more alkaline and allow your soil to breathe without becoming dense and compacted. Be sure to douse your pine needles with water and mix well in your compost pile.
The tree doesn’t have to be living for wildlife to take over. Hang bird feeders to attract birds and watch your tree evolve into a bird sanctuary. Other critters will soon follow as they nest in the branches of the tree.
5. Fish Feeder
When trees are dropped and left in water, they become a thriving reserve for fish. The weight of the tree acts as an anchor, and as time passes, algae starts to form on the tree, feeding fish and protecting them from predators. Check with local officials and see if you can drop your tree in a nearby lake or pond.
6. Ash your Garden
After you’ve burned the wood from your tree, gather the ashes and spread them on your garden. Wood ash contains potassium and lime (among other nutrients), which help plants thrive, or mix the ashes into a compost. The ashes are also useful in keeping insects away.
7. Insulate your Garden
Cut off the branches of your tree and lay them on your garden bed, the boughs will protect your plants from winter freezes and spring thaws. By laying them on your garden, you’re giving your plants a steady temperature for the cold months. The limbs also work well as a garden edge.
If the needles on your tree are still green, strip the tree and store the needles in paper bags or sachets to use as fresheners. The needles will retain their scent and freshen your home year-round.
9. Dune restoration
Beach communities that have been decimated by storms and hurricanes have turned to old Christmas trees to help fight beach erosion and restore sand dunes. Christmas trees and their needles retain sand and vegetation against strong winds and provide cover for birds in the winter.
You don’t have to be a craftsman to cut the trunk into one-inch wood coasters. They’re attractive, practical, and protect your wood tables from water damage. Be sure to let the tree completely dry before cutting (or they wood will split) and varnish the coasters before use.
What do you think of our 10 ideas to recycle your Christmas tree? We would love to hear from you in the Comments section below!
Source: Popularmechanics.com and Arborday.org
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