Xmas Tree Afterlife

The Christmas tree is one of the most iconic symbols of the holiday, the glowing centerpiece of our seasonal decorations and celebrations. Yet, almost as soon as the big day is over — sometimes as soon as 24 hours after — we strip them bare and put them out with the trash. Once honored, by the beginning of the New Year, if not sooner, they’re unceremoniously cast out. (They get their revenge though, leaving a few pesky needles for you to find months later, usually with your bare feet.)

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This year, show your tree a little more respect; instead of relegating it to the curb, give it the chance at a new purpose. Here are a few ideas:

RECYCLE IT. Many cities around the state offer Christmas tree recycling services. Check your city’s website or call to find the dates and locations for drop off. Some places even have curbside pickup, making it okay to put your tree on the curb. Remember to remove all lights and ornaments first.

CRITTER GETTER. If you’ve got a large yard, place the tree somewhere out of the way, and it will provide shelter from cold winds for small birds. Birds will eat tinsel and other shiny stuff, so again, remember to remove all ornaments. You could add a few new ones though — stuff the birds can safely eat. Hanging a few peanut butter-covered pine cones sprinkled with bird seed will attract feathered friends to the safe haven you’ve given them.

COMPOST IT. Throw that tree on the compost pile. You do compost, right? The process recycles organic household waste into a compost mixture that returns badly needed organic matter to your soil and reduces the amount of garbage going into landfills.

MULCH IT. A Christmas tree is completely biodegradable. Its branches and needles make great garden mulch, especially for plants that like acidic soil.

SINK IT. Tossed in a pond or lake, a Christmas tree makes a great refuge and feeding area for fish, which you can catch later!

REUSE IT. Cut the branches off your tree and place them on top of fragile bushes in your garden or yard to protect from winter’s chill.