5 Incredibly Unique Ways to Recycle a Christmas Tree

Editor’s note: This post is a Care2 Favorite. It was originally published on December 29, 2013. Enjoy.

For nearly a month, your Christmas tree has formed the centerpiece of holiday celebrations. But now, as the New Year draws near, it’s time to think about what to do with it.

If, like millions of people, you chose a fresh cut tree, it’s important to think long and hard about recycling. After all, a carbon-sucking plant gave its life so that you could honor the pagan tradition of decorating a tree. Just tossing it in the garbage is a depressing waste, especially when there are so many other creative options.

Below is a list of the most creative ideas we’ve ever seen for repurposing Christmas trees. Although most of us will undoubtedly choose number one (the easiest option), the others will warm your heart as well.

1. Water-Saving Mulch – Most city governments have some form of Christmas tree recycling program. Check your city’s official website, or call up your waste hauler if you’re not sure. Instead of just chucking trees into the dump, they’re transformed into a valuable resource: mulch. It might not be as glamorous as the other ideas on this list, but mulch isáused in public gardens and parks across the valley to help conserve soil moisture and keep plants healthy, and there’s nothing boring about that.

2. Coastal Erosion Defense System – According to Louisiana news station WLTV, “the state Department of Natural Resourcesáhas provided grants to parishes along the coast that use recycled Christmas trees to help protect wetland areas by slowing wave action and erosion” for the past 17 years. Volunteers in boats place collectedáChristmas trees into pre-constructed shoreline fences where they slow wave action and help reduce erosion.

3. Building Materials – Okay, you might not be able to choose this for your own Christmas tree, but it’s still one of the coolest stories we’ve heard all year. You know that massive Christmas tree they erect every year at Rockefeller Center? Each year it’s donated to Habitat for Humanity and transformed into lumber used to build homes for those in need.

4. Giant Air Fresheners – Even dried out old Christmas trees carry a wonderful piney scent. Usingátrees found on the streets of North Brooklyn, artist Michael Neff created a giant air freshner/modern art installation under a bridge in BQE. It’s a strange juxtaposition of life and death, greenery and concrete that’s not to be missed.

5. Car Parts – This is another idea you might have trouble executing on your own, but it was too good not to mention. The Lincoln Motor Company is working on aátree-based, renewable alternative to fiberglass for use in auto parts. Called “Cellulose Reinforced Polypropylene” the material is aboutáabout 6 percent lighter, and could decrease the reliance on less-environmentally friendly fiberglass parts. But it’s only green if they use recycled trees, hint hint.

Image via Thinkstock


Christine J.
Christine Jabout a year ago

Brilliant, creative thinking. I love the coastal erosion defence system.

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus1 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill1 years ago

The idea of using trees for auto parts is interesting.

M.N. J.
M.N. J1 years ago

Fresh cut from a local tree farm that supplies habitat to birds and other wildlife, oxygen and carbon reduction to the planet, and keeps the land "occupied" and free from development and the wildlife devastation that ensues.

Recycled by my city's free curbside pickup program that provides mulch to our local parks.

You can't recycle a PVC and petroleum tree.

If you're so opposed to tree farming, at least consider supporting tree farmers who rent their trees at Christmas.

Alison A.
Alison A1 years ago

Thanks for posting.

Elizabeth O.
Elizabeth O1 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Valerie A.
Valerie A1 years ago


Debra Phillips
Debra Phillips1 years ago

We really don't have room for a tree so we decorated the ceiling this year!

FOTEINI h1 years ago

or keep all in the attic for next year as millions of people are doing!