We’ve all heard about the Christmas tree rental programs in which you rent a potted live tree that is replanted in a forest each year. However, depending on where you live, this is not always an option, so many of us still buy a cut tree every December.
As soon as the 6th of January arrives, our streets are lined with Christmas trees that have been abandoned after their festive duties have been completed.
And if you include the trees that are cut but not sold, that’s a lot of trees being thrown away. Isn’t there something else they can do?
Here are some unique ways to turn your Christmas tree into something useful.
1. Transform your Christmas tree into a delicious treat for farm animals.
Some city farms and petting zoos collect trees in exchange for a donation.
Kentish Town City Farm in London, the UK’s oldest city farm, feeds their goats with the trees they collect.
They not only taste good, but they are also thought to be a natural de-wormer.
2. Use your Christmas tree to protect the coast.
To support and heighten sand dunes, cut trees can be planted or buried on beaches.
Sand dunes aid in the protection of land from flooding. They are also blue carbon ecosystems, meaning they store more carbon per unit area than terrestrial forests and have stored one-third of global carbon emissions since the industrial revolution.
When the trees are carefully planted into the ground, the sand is captured in the branches and used to rebuild the dune.
Beach Guardian, based in Cornwall, UK, organizes a volunteer army that brings old Christmas trees to the beach to help protect the sand dunes.
3. Put your Christmas tree in the city compost pile.
If you live far from a beach or have no local farm to donate your tree to, many local councils or charities will collect it and turn it into fertilizer.
Trees are shredded and used to keep public spaces green and flourishing.
In Paris, the city council establishes drop-off points throughout the city where trees can be collected, shredded, and then spread throughout the city’s green spaces.
4. Donate your Christmas tree to the zoo for playtime.
Christmas trees can be used at zoos as part of enrichment programmes for a variety of animals, in addition to being a tasty treat for farm animals.
Elephants, gorillas, and bison at Berlin and Prague zoos have enjoyed sniffing, nibbling, and playing with leftover trees.
5. Ash for Your Garden
After you’ve burned the wood from your tree, collect the ashes and scatter them throughout your garden. Wood ash contains potassium and lime (among other nutrients) that help plants thrive; alternatively, combine the ashes with compost. The ashes are also effective at repelling insects. Do not confuse wood ash with coal ash; coal ash does not provide the same benefits as wood ash.
6. Use the leaves as a Freshener
If your tree’s needles are still green, remove them and store them in paper bags or sachets to use as fresheners. The needles will keep their scent and freshen your home all year.
If you don’t need to recycle your living tree for personal use, look for a local recycling programme that will. Many communities have recycling and reuse programmes, as well as curbside pickup. Because living trees are biodegradable, they will benefit the environment no matter how they are used after the holidays.
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