Responsible Christmas Tree Disposal

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

(Minneapolis, MN) - As the holiday season comes to a close, it becomes time to consider New Year's resolutions. If making more environmentally friendly decisions is on your list, 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, trees can be reused or recycled.
Every community is different in terms of the recycling or collection options that are offered. The toughest part of picking an environmentally-friendly alternative for your 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 dates and tree size limits, so make sure to follow your local municipality's rules. If you're lucky enough to have access to this hassle-free service, make sure to take advantage.
Earth911's Treecycle Program offers a comprehensive tree recycling directory to assist in finding your nearest recycling center. The directory lists over 4,000 resources. Recycling options range from curbside pickup to consumer drop-off and DYI projects.  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 underwater habitat and feeding sites for aquatic species. The trees may be placed in private ponds or nearby public water bodies through programs and services offered by local conservation groups and state agencies. The trees may also be used for shoreline stabilization or as soil erosion barriers.  After Hurricane Sandy, Christmas trees were reused to help stabilize and shore up coastal sand dunes.
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!