Environmentally Responsible Christmas Tree Removal

Environmentally-friendly alternatives for your natural tree at the end of the holiday season

(Minneapolis, MN) - If making more environmentally-friendly decisions is on your list of New Year's resolutions, try starting with your Christmas tree. Natural Christmas trees don't have to be treated as waste after the holiday season. Keeping trees out of landfills is an important consideration, and with a little bit of effort, your tree can be reused or recycled.
Every year after the holiday season comes to a close, the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree is removed from the White House lawn to be recycled and reused. In the past this has included chipping to create mulch for Capitol ground garden beds, and milling to create custom-made furniture and wooden Christmas tree ornaments.

The famous Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is also reused. For the eighth consecutive year, the 2014 Christmas Tree will be donated to Habitat for Humanity to be made into lumber for home building. The 2013 tree was used to help build a home in Bridgeport, CT.

The toughest part of picking an environmentally-friendly alternative for your own tree is finding out what options are available to you. There may be curbside recycling in your community or a local tree-recycling center. Many public works departments that offer curbside recycling have requirements, like specific pick-up or drop-off dates and tree size limits, so make sure to follow your local municipality's rules. Every community is different in terms of the recycling or collection options that are offered. If you're lucky enough to have access to this hassle-free service, make sure to take advantage. Local nonprofit organizations may also offer tree pickup services. For example, some local Boy Scout troops will pick up trees for recycling with a suggested small donation fee.
Some communities also have found ways to recycle Christmas trees into wildlife habitat. Christmas trees can serve as habitat and feeding sites for diverse species. The trees may be placed through programs and services offered by local conservation groups and state agencies. After Hurricane Sandy, Christmas trees were reused to help stabilize and shore up coastal sand dunes. Be sure to check the rules in your state and city.
If your community lacks an organized recycling program, you may also consider taking action to start one. The National Christmas Tree Association offers resources and tips for beginning a successful tree-recycling program in your area.
Whichever tree reuse or recycling option you choose, know that it is creating a positive impact on the environment. You can extend the useful life of your holiday tree while keeping resources from being sent to the landfill. Happy environmentally-friendly New Year!

Photo courtesy of the Architect of the Capitol