5 Incredibly Unique Ways to Recycle a Christmas Tree

Editor’s note: This Care2 favorite was originally posted 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 keeps plants health and helps conserve soil moisture in public gardens and parks — and there’s nothing boring about that.

2. Coastal Erosion Defense System

According to Louisiana news station WLTV, “the state Department of Natural Resources has 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 collected Christmas 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. Using trees found on the streets of North Brooklyn, artist Michael Neff created a giant air freshener/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 a tree-based, renewable alternative to fiberglass for use in auto parts. Called “Cellulose Reinforced Polypropylene” the material is about about 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.

Photo Credit: Annie Spratt/Unsplash


Yvonne T
Yvonne Tabout a month ago

let us safe the trees and everybody can start on christmas with the christmas tree!!!!thank you ALL

Leanne K
Leanne K9 months ago

There are sooo many worthwhile petitions around recycling here on Care2 with bugger all signatures, including mine. Every one is worth signing. Just type recycling into the Q field box and up they come. Thanks in advance

Marie W
Marie W10 months ago

Thank you for sharing

Nicole H
Nicole Heindryckxabout a year ago

Here we go again with an article of 4 years ago. Although there are some good ideas to do with your old christmas tree, I never have a problem with it. Since about 20 years, we use a synthetic tree. Of course, you miss the smell - which you can compensate for by adding some oil in small recipients and put them on the central heating. But it has it advantages : I do not waste any good land used for planting Christmas trees ; I do not have a lot of needles in my living room for over 3/4 months, and I don't have to bring it to the city junk yard. It costs me a lot more money when I bought it, but now after 20 years, it is still a nice tree and when she is well decorated, you can hardly see the difference. Better for my pocket and better for nature. Think everyone should at least consider that !!

Lesa D
Past Member about a year ago


thank you, Beth...

Amanda M
Amanda McConnellabout a year ago

Thanks for sharing

Amanda M
Amanda McConnellabout a year ago

Thanks for sharing

Georgina M
Georgina Elizab Mabout a year ago

NEVER use real Xmas trees

Elaine W
Elaine Wabout a year ago

This article is well worth the rerun. Thanks.

Paulo Reeson
Paulo Rabout a year ago