For many people, Christmas wouldn’t be complete without the perfect tree. Festooned with lights and carefully decorated with ornaments, it offers a place to gather and stack presents. But if you have a real tree, what do you do with it after the holiday is over? Rather than leaving it out on the curb, there are several sustainable ways to repurpose your old tree and extend the value of your purchase.
Once your tree is free of all decorations, hooks, and lights, you can add it to an existing brush pile. If you lack such a pile or don’t wish to start one, another option is to simply toss your tree into a wooded corner of your yard.
Breaking down over time, your old tree will provide shelter for wildlife and will also eventually return nutrients to the soil. Tucked away and forgotten in a relatively undisturbed place, the tree will shed its needles and fade into the background.
Another wildlife-friendly option is to simply leave the tree in its stand and bring it outside near your bird feeders. The tree can also be tied to a fence or post. By offering a source of shelter near your seed or suet feeder, the birds will benefit on chilly winter days. Avoid fastening the tree directly onto a bird feeder. Doing so will create an easy pathway for rapacious squirrels.
Old Christmas trees can also be donated to goat farms (call in advance) or chipped into garden mulch. If none of the aforementioned options are feasible, your tree can be chopped up and burned in an outdoor fire pit. You’ll enjoy the warmth and companionship that stems from a pleasant evening spent around a crackling winter fire.
If you don’t celebrate Christmas or plan to find a tree, there are many other ways to lessen your environmental footprint over the next few weeks. Shop locally, remember to bring reusable bags to the grocery store, and consider making a small donation to your local land trust or favorite environmental charity.
And as another pandemic year ends, remember to be kind to others. Given the signs that are being posted on business windows and on social media reminding customers to be polite, it’s clear that some in our wonderful community are behaving in less than wonderful ways. We learned in elementary school to say please and thank you, to listen rather than yell, and to pick up after ourselves.
So, in that spirit, do your best to be patient and understanding. Wait your turn, leave a tip, and remember that the person across the counter from you is a human being. No one deserves to be treated poorly. Maybe instead of rushing to find fault or point fingers, we could all be mindful of the fact that short-staffed businesses are doing the best they can.
Happy holidays and Merry Christmas.