Artificial trees are convenient for many reasons but we love buying a real tree. It turns out that the environmental impact of purchasing a real tree may be pretty small. Unless you use an artificial tree for as many as 20 years, a real tree actually has significantly less of an impact especially if you recycle your Christmas tree.
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Epiphany or the 12th day of Christmas is on January 6 and marks the official end of the Christmas season. This ancient Christian day of feast signified the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist. It also marked the arrival of the Magi who brought gifts to the baby Jesus. The day of Epiphany was celebrated as much as Christmas Day until the 19th century.
For many, the day of Epiphany now marks the day when the Christmas tree comes down. And when the tree comes down a decision must be made about what to do with that tree. There are many ways you can recycle your Christmas tree and extend its contribution to the earth.
6 Ways to Recycle Your Christmas Tree
- Turn your Christmas tree into mulch. Many community recycling programs offer free mulching services and will either have a location where you can take your tree to be mulched or they will offer a city-wide pickup on a specific date. Check with your local city offices to see if this program is available in your area.
- Cut wood slices to make ornaments. Wood sliced can be used to make a variety of different ornaments. You can check out some ideas on my Christmas Pinterest board. Use a bandsaw to slice the wood into thin slices to use in craft projects. The wood slices should be dried to kill off any creatures that may be living inside. Line a baking sheet with foil and dry the slices in a low oven (225-250°) for 45 minutes on each side. Pine may contain sap so watch closely to avoid burning any sap.
- Use your Christmas tree as firewood. While it is not recommended to burn any part of your Christmas tree in your home fireplace or wood stove, it will be perfect for an outdoor fire pit. It has been a tradition of our to celebrate New Year’s Eve with a big bonfire, including our Christmas tree. Be sure to follow your local rules and regulations for burning.
- Compost your Christmas tree. Layering the pine branches makes a great base for a new compost pile. The branches create a breathable layer. Some communities offer community composting if you don’t have your own compost heap.
- Create a bird tree. I first learned of the Bird Tree concept several years ago when my friend Bethany wrote a guest post for Arkansas Women Bloggers. Bethany and her daughter were using a potted tree to create a bird-friendly space in their yard. DontMoveFirewood.org does not recommend that you do this with a cut tree because of the risks of invasive pests that may be hiding in your trees. Read more about the risks related to moving firewood and Christmas trees in my article on OnlyinArk.com.
- Turn your tree into a fish habitat. This is one of the best ways to recycle your Christmas tree. Fish habitats are a benefit for both the fish and for anglers and Christmas trees make great habitats! Here in Arkansas, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission hosts an annual Christmas tree collection to allow anglers to set up fish habitats in waters around the state. You can read my article about the Arkansas program for more information and a list of pre-approved Arkansas locations.
How to Recycle Your Christmas Tree into a Fish Habitat
- REAL Christmas Tree
- Concrete cinder blocks or bricks
- Synthetic rope or wire
- Make sure all ornaments, tinsel and lights have been removed from your tree.
- Using wire or synthetic rope (cotton isn’t recommended because it breaks down too quickly) attach a concrete cinder block to the trunk of the tree to act as an anchor.
- Load several of your prepped trees onto a boat.
- Select a location to drop your trees. Randy Zellers with AGFC recommended that you select a spot that is 12-25 feet deep for a good crappie habitat and that you could go a little shallower for bass.
- Drop your trees and watch them sink. Place several trees in the same area.
- Record the GPS location of your habitat.
- Return to your habitat later on and catch some fish!
- Watershield (Brasenia schreberi) – A Native Aquatic Plant
- Christmas Tree Farm Bingo – Adventures at the Christmas Tree Farm
- O Christmas Tree, O Fishy Tree – Recycle Real Christmas Trees
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