Environmentally Friendly Christmas Trees: how to dispose of them

So, Christmas is over (boo!) but you’ve still got your environmentally friendly, sustainably decorated tree hanging around. You don’t want it to go to landfill – but how are you to dispose of it in an ecologically sound way?

This is probably the easiest part of having a sustainable Christmas tree. If you’ve got a real tree then it will biodegrade, which means that in theory you can simply pop it on your compost heap and leave it to do its thing. But, admittedly, trees do take some years to rot down properly. If you can’t wait that long, here are some other options:

  • Chop it up and compost it. If you don’t want to leave your real (dead) tree hanging around outside, it can be chopped, chipped, mulched, and otherwise turned into bio-resources. You could chop your tree up and compost it, or use it as firewood, or take it to one of the many garden centres which will chip old Christmas trees for free (they then use the wood chippings for substrate and mulch).
  • Replant it. If you’ve got a tree with roots (or if you’re using a live tree rental scheme), your tree can be replanted. Pine trees are pretty hardy so, if you’ve kept the roots watered and fresh, you should find that your tree takes quite happily to its new plot. But be warned – pine trees grow fast and they grow tall, so think carefully about where you’re going to put it!
  • Donate it to a wildlife park. Some wildlife parks use (real) Christmas trees as enrichment items for their animals. You’d be amazed at how many creatures love gnawing on, clambering on, pushing around, and otherwise playing with old Christmas trees!
  • Look into conservation options. Some conservation organisations have taken to using old (real) Christmas trees to aid things like sand dunes, struggling hedgerows, and dwindling beaches. The Christmas trees provide much-needed structure and support without threatening the ecosystem. See if any conservationists in your area can make use of your old tree.
  • Re-use a plastic tree over and over again. Over a decade or so, the carbon footprint of a reused plastic tree is lower than that of getting a real tree each year. So, if you’ve got an artificial tree, the most sustainable way to dispose of it is not to dispose of it at all. Put it away and keep reusing it for years to come! If you really must get rid of it, why not give it to a charity shop, or even upcycle it into something else?

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