Learn how to recycle a Christmas tree to be eco-friendlier after the holidays. In Canada, it will depend on if you have a real one or an artificial one and the available options where you live.
It’s part of the discussion around the advantages and disadvantages of using a real Christmas tree versus an artificial one.
How to Recycle a Real Christmas Tree
When referring to recycling a real Christmas tree, it’s assumed it’s a cut tree used for only one season instead of a living potted tree.
The beauty of a real tree is that they’re generally recyclable and biodegradable. Many municipalities offer pickup services after the holidays to dispose of real trees.
They’re often mulched up to be used for gardening in the spring and make a great addition to green spaces and home gardens.
If you contact your local town office, you can find out what services are offered near you to pick up and dispose of real Christmas trees. You could also contact any local recycling companies for information.
Another thing you can do is check with any livestock farms in your area. Many people like to give real Christmas trees to their goats or other animals to feed on.
Make sure all decorations have been removed from the tree before it’s placed out for recycling. It’s a good idea not to use any decorative scent or fake snow spray on the tree.
Christmas Tree Disposal Bags in Canada
If you decide to use a Christmas tree disposal bag to avoid cleaning up tree needles after the holidays, keep in mind that these bags are often made of plastic and add more material to the earth’s waste problem.
They do make a good option to avoid dealing with the cleanup of needles after the holidays, providing you don’t choose the plastic kind.
How to Recycle an Artificial Christmas Tree
Unfortunately, artificial Christmas trees are not fit for recycling, so they need to go to the landfill or get incinerated. Neither is a good option.
The only real benefit of an artificial tree is that you may have it for several years before this is necessary. But it will be eventually.
However, you may be able to repurpose your artificial tree if it’s still in good shape. Secondhand stores and charities will often accept trees if they’re in decent condition and can still serve their purpose during the holidays.
Otherwise, you’re better off getting a real tree that can be recycled or using the idea below to avoid recycling altogether.
How to Avoid Recycling a Christmas Tree
If you want to avoid having to grapple with the issue of recycling a real Christmas tree or deal with the environmental disadvantages of an artificial tree, you can go with a potted tree.
A potted evergreen tree can be decorated and kept inside during the holiday season. Because potted trees tend to run around 3-5 feet, it looks different than a larger cut tree but can be quite nice, especially in a smaller space.
Just keep in mind that a tree needs room for roots and growth to be stable, so it can’t be kept in a pot indefinitely. At some point, you’ll need to replant it outside.
Some experts recommend not keeping it indoors for longer than 12 days to a couple of weeks, with careful attention to watering.
Depending on where you live, it may be too cold, and the ground may be too frozen to do any outside planting around Christmastime in most parts of Canada. According to David Suzuki’s Queen of Green, you can leave them outside in the pot until spring thaw and plant them then.
It’s a good idea to consult with the gardening experts or staff before you go with a potted Christmas tree option. If you can’t replant it conveniently, you may still have to look at recycling.
The bottom line is a real tree can be recycled in most places, while an artificial tree will end up causing environmental issues at some point in its life cycle.
And, if you choose a real tree, you may have more fuss with transportation and cleanup, but you’ll also support local businesses and the economy of your area.