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Recycle your Christmas tree

 Posted by on January 2, 2012
Jan 022012
 

From Green Right Now Reports

Every year the holidays bring the same debate: Is it more eco-friendly to use a live fresh-cut evergreen or a reusable faux tree?

And the answer is that the most eco-friendly yuletide solution is to decorate a potted live tree and plant it after the holidays.

The next choice would be to buy a live Christmas tree, and have it mulched after the holidays.

Bakers Lake heron rookery near Chicago uses Christmas trees.

Pine and fir tree mulch is commonly used in civic garden areas or even as fuel. In recent years, people have come up with a variety of creative ways to reuse whole discarded Christmas trees, according to the National Christmas Tree Association (NCTA).

In Cook County, Ill., the trees have created habitat cover and supplied egrets and herons with nesting material. In New Hampshire and Massachusetts, state environmental workers have sunk whole trees onto lake bottoms to provide cover for fish. Christmas trees have been used to help stop dune erosion near the Gulf Coast.

To send your tree to a purposeful afterlife, check with your city waste department. Most cities offer free tree recycling programs, though it may be a special onetime event and may not include curbside pick up.

If you’re still unsure where to have your tree shredded, check the Earth 911 national database of locations.

Using a live tree, even one that’s ground to mulch three weeks later, is environmentally defensible because it absorbs carbon, produces oxygen and contributes to green space during its average 7 years of growing time on the tree farm. In addition, this grow-harvest-mulch cycle is vital to maintaining an industry in the US that employs up to 100,000 people in full-time or seasonal jobs, according to the NCTA.

If you use an artificial tree, it was likely made in China, and no matter how many decades you haul it from attic to living room, its plastic parts will remain non-biodegradable, according to the US-based Christmas tree growers. (They have a vested interest, but also a good argument. You need to only to picture that plastic tree in the Pacific Gyre.)

Of course, if you have allergies to fir and pine trees, you are forgiven for going faux.