Christmas is over and you’re making plans to take down your beloved tree but what’s the best way to recycle or dispose of it now the festivities have ended? We offer some top tips and inspiration.
Remember, fake trees are made from mixed materials and can’t be recycled, so they inevitably end up in landfill. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have options… If you are getting rid of your fake tree at any point and it is still in good condition, consider donating it to a charity shop for them to sell or use in their Christmas displays. Churches, hospitals, youth centres and other charitable organisations may also be interested. Alternatively, you could even offer it for sale yourself on an auction site or give it away on Freecycle; an organisation that helps people share goods in their local towns, encouraging re-use and keeping things out of landfill.
If you buy a real tree in a pot, it will still have root ball and you can re-plant it in the garden to keep growing and looking luscious, ready for use next Christmas. Hang a few birdfeeders in the branches to give wildlife an extra boost.
If you are feeling a little creative, why not repurpose your artificial tree into another festive home accent – from wreaths and garlands, to gift toppers and foliage for other floral arrangements. That way, you reduce plastic waste and bag yourself some exciting new decorations for next year!
Cut real trees can also be recycled. Don’t send them to landfill, where they will break down, creating harmful methane gas, which is 25 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide!
Look up private collections in your area. These are very often organised by local groups, like the Scouts, and can be booked quickly online for a small fee. These organisations use Christmas tree collection and recycling as a way to raise much-needed funds, so it is nice to show your support. Most of the time they will turn collected trees into chippings for use on pathways and gardens, which is great news for the environment. According to the Carbon Trust, by re-planting your Christmas tree or having it chipped to spread on the garden, you will significantly reduce the carbon footprint by up to 80% (around 3.5kg CO2e). Sending it to landfill, on the other hand, produces a carbon footprint of around 16kg for a 2m tree. Oh and be sure to remove all decorations, tinsel and pots before recycling!
According to Gardeners World, mulch from your old Christmas tree offers fantastic benefits in the garden. If you don’t have any groups collecting locally and can get your hands on a woodchipper, you can reap the rewards in your own garden. Leave the tree on your patio until the needles fall off, then collect the needles to use as a mulch for acid-loving plants, such as blueberries. Echinacea, Acers, and pelargoniums. Put the remaining tree through a shredder and stack the chips at the back of a bed for a few months to rot down before using them to mulch around plants, in order to suppress weeds, lock moisture into the earth and improve soil structure.
Local councils also collect trees to recycle as part of their green waste scheme, but these have been suspended in some areas due to the pandemic. Check here for more information or to be directed to your local council website and find out if the service is still running in your area.
Other great ways of using your old tree in the garden include planting the bare tree in a bed and allow climbers, like scented sweet peas or clematis, to grow up it to; using branches to cover and protect plants in beds from the elements during winter (simply lay the cut branches over plants on the soil surface to maintain a warmer temperature and protect from frost); or even cut the truck, twigs and branches down to pile up in a bundle and create a deadwood shelter for wildlife (this is a great one to get kids involved in and help them learn about the creatures in their gardens).
Missing the scent of Christmas? You can always use your tree to create your own festive potpourri. Grab a few of the pine branches and chop off a good-sized portion of the tree stump. Collect some typical festive scents, like cinnamon sticks, cloves and fresh cranberries to add into the mix. Place it all in a heatproof dish, adding water up to the halfway point, then place in a warm place, such as on top of a radiator cover, ready to enjoy the heady scent as the water begins to warm up.