Quick! What’s more environmentally friendly: real or fake Christmas trees? Some shoppers may think that by selecting a plastic tree, they’re “saving a tree” and picking a solution that can be used year after year. However, most fake trees are made from vinyl and other difficult-to-recycle plastics. Real Christmas trees are actually the more eco-friendly choice, thanks in part to their recyclability. After the holidays, consider these great uses for your natural tree:
Dune defenders: Next time you head to the beach, you may need to thank Christmas trees for those beautiful coastlines. Recycled trees are commonly used to strengthen and rebuild dunes. In fact, after Hurricane Sandy, several beaches in New Jersey used Christmas trees to restore their flattened and destroyed dunes. Beyond the beach, recycled trees can also be used to build barriers in marshlands and bayous.
Soil enrichment: Many municipalities offer convenient, curbside pickup programs that turn discarded Christmas trees into mulch. This mulch can be used for a variety of local landscaping projects, from padding hiking trails to beautifying parks. You can use Earth911’s easy search tool to find pickup/drop-off locations near you.
Underwater habitat: If you own property with a pond, lake, or stream, Christmas trees can be sunk and used as inexpensive, eco-friendly homes for fish and other aquatic life. If your home doesn’t have a waterfront view, contact local conservation groups to see if your tree could have a second life under the sea.
Compost champion: Trees will naturally break down and enrich the soil, so if you live in a rural area, throw your tree in a brush pile and let it return to nature. As an added bonus, before it decomposes, it can provide shelter for finches, sparrows and other birds.
Bottom line: No matter if you’re a bird lover or beach bum, your Christmas tree can be easily recycled to help the environment. Check your local newspaper for nonprofits and community programs near you and select your favorite program.
What’s your favorite Christmas tree tradition? Let us know in the comments below, or by e-mailing email@example.com. DING! You are now free to be green!