Cover picture by (Spencer R. Layne/U.S. Navy)
If you have a fresh Christmas tree that needs to be disposed of, we've got resources. There are plenty of sustainable, green cleaning ways to put your tree to good use rather than putting it in the local landfill. Just remember it's important to do it promptly rather than leave it sitting in or outside your house. Dry Christmas trees can quickly become a fire hazard and can even burn faster than newspaper. (NFPA) And of course be sure to remove all ornaments, tinsel, lights, and the stand.
One Thing to Avoid
The one thing we can't recommend you do is chop up your tree as firewood for your fireplace. Evergreens have very high levels of creosote. This is a tar-like substance that can cause dangerous smoke and build up in your chimney and cause a home fire later.
Outside of mulching it for your flower beds, did you know your leftover tree can be used for local dune restoration? Chico's Pizza in Virginia Beach is hosting its 2nd Annual Tree Drive from Dec. 26 to January 9. Last year they collected more than 500 trees and delivered them to the Outer Banks to help beach and dune erosion. The trees and their needles protect the vegetation and sand from wind and water erosion as well as sheltering wildlife. The nutrients are also beneficial for the beach grass.
You can also check with local zoos and animal rescue centers for recycling programs for animals. West Virginia's Department of Environmental Protection’s Rehabilitation Environmental Action Plan is taking Christmas trees after the holidays for fish habitats. At Claytor Lake in southwest Virginia, donated trees will be used in reef structures for game fish. Trees will be accepted there until January 20.
There's even a local Tennessee elephant sanctuary that takes trees for their trunked residents. You can see them enjoying the leftover trees in this video or on their live elecam.
In Lanexa, Virginia, you can feed your tree to goats! Goatworx LLC will come pick up your tree for about $10 and use it on their goat farm, providing valuable winter food full of vitamins and minerals and natural worm prevention.
If you have your own livestock, check before you feed pine needles to those farm friends. There is such a thing as pine toxicity in large amounts.
Additionally, your own city waste management most likely has a recycling program available. Check NOVA, central Virginia/Richmond, Henrico, Albemarle County , Lynchburg, Charlottesville, Blacksburg and coastal Virginia locales as well as county government sites for recycling efforts in your area.
Do you know about a recycling program we haven't mentioned? Let us know!
Photo courtesy of NOVEC