When it’s time to toss the tree, keep it green

The holidays are almost over and you’re tired of vacuuming up pine needles five times a day. When it’s time to take  large_transparent_png_christmas_tree_with_gifts_zpse9787be9 down that tree, though, don’t just toss it out with the trash — consider a more eco-friendly solution instead.

Residents of Bethlehem and Allentown can set their tree out for curbside pickup — after ensuring all ornaments, tinsel, stands and hooks have been removed — and they’ll be taken to a compost facility. Acoording to Lehighvalleylive.com,  Bethlehem’s curbside pickup “will be opposite an address’s recycling schedule, for the weeks Jan 16-20 and 23-27. … in Allentown, curbside collection of trees is scheduled for the second and fourth weeks of January.”

If you miss the curbisde dates, you can also drop them off. Bethlehem’s compost center is at 1480 Schoenersville Road. Allentown’s compost center — at 1401 Oxford Drive — will hold a Christmas tree dropoff from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Jan. 7. An electronics recycling event will be held there at the same time.

If you can’t recycle your tree that way, or want a different option, read on.

Here are a few tips from The National Wildlife Federation

1. Create a brush pile with your tree as the base

A brush pile often consists of leaves, logs, and twigs so an old Christmas tree can make a great base. This is the easiest thing you can do with your tree if you have a yard. It directly benefits the wildlife in your backyard during winter months because brush piles and dead trees offer food and needed protection from the chill. We have suggestions for how to make a brush pile and we understand that not all communities allow for them.

2. Use it in the garden

There are a number of ways you can use your recycled Christmas tree to enrich your soil by composting it or using the pine needles and boughs to cover your garden bed. Chop the trunk and branches and break your tree down, this will allow you to add some nice insulation to your garden.

3. Decorate your tree for wildlife

If you love to watch birds or want a fun project, you can decorate your tree with edible ornaments or popcorn strings so that you feed wildlife like birds and squirrels. This is a enjoyable activity to do with kids or the young at heart (me) and can help wildlife at a time when food is scarce. Most of the recipes call for peanut butter, fresh fruit (like grapes, berries, or apples), suet and bird seed.

4. Donate your tree to a local restoration project

There are all sorts of great local projects that take in Christmas trees and use them for restoration projects. At National Wildlife Federation, we have talked about using Christmas trees to help prevent wetland loss in Louisiana. Other projects have helped provide fish habitat, restore dunes, and even provide electricity or mulch for cities. If your county does have a tree disposal program, do a little digging to make sure you like where your tree ends up! You can also check out these additional ideas on how to recycle your tree.

Popular Mechanics has a number of tips, including these:

  •  Use your bandsaw or hacksaw to cut your Christmas tree trunk into coasters and trivets. Make sure you sand down the surfaces and stain and seal them before using to prevent sap from leaking.
  •  If you’ve got a lake or pond on your property, consider dumping your tree into it. That old pine or spruce provides a natural and decomposing habitat for fish and will attract algae for them to eat. Some game and fishery departments will offer a drop-off service for trees that they will then use in community lakes and ponds. Just remember to remove all ornaments, hooks, and decorations before dropping it off.

And This Old House  has a few gems, too, including:

  •  Cut the trunk into 2-inch discs and set them into the soil to edge flower beds or walkways.
  •  Strip small branches and use the remaining twigs to support indoor potted plants or stake leggy seedlings.


Whatever option you choose, try to make your tree’s end as green as its beginning.