Sunday, January 3, 2021

Repurposing Your Christmas Tree

Depending on when you take your tree down, this post may be in the category of "day late & dollar short." Or maybe it's perfectly-timed given you decided this was the year to hang on to holiday cheer and keep your tree up a little longer, because, know...2020. Or, it could happen that the point is mute due to having an artificial tree which just goes back in the box until next year. Or perhaps this post will serve as inspiration for next year's Christmas season. 

Whichever it may be, at some point your holiday decorations come down, as does your Christmas tree. If you had a real one, you have to do something once it's stripped bare of ornaments and lights. In the past when we have had a live tree (versus the artificial one we have now that will ultimately go back into the garage), we have pulled our tree curbside for recycling & the making of mulch. Repurposing the tree in that way is a good use of resources, and be sure to watch your local municipality for its curbside-tree-dates if you decide to go that route. 

However, the thought of returning the tree to nature as a gift of the season as a respite and home for wildlife struck me as a warm one this year. Kudos goes to The Nature Conservancy of Canada for posting the idea of leaving your old Christmas tree in your backyard. In doing this, you've taken a circular loop  approach. In fact, more things should come with this kind of closed loop (or circular economy) concept. Here, instead of the "throw away and replace culture we've become used to, we'd adopt a return and renew one, where products and components are designed to be disassembled and regenerated." 

In nature, with a Christmas tree, the closed loop is simple: bring it outside. By leaving it in your backyard, especially during the winter, you've now created a habitat for birds and other backyard wildlife. You've also widened your own backyard biodiversity. All the more so if you decorate it with peanut butter and bird seed covered pine cone ornaments. 

As the tree looses the needles and starts to decompose, not only will it continue to provide shelter to animals, it also will start to break down, which ultimately will add nutrients to the soil. According to the Nature Conservancy of Canada, many fir trees break fairly quickly given the makeup of the wood. You can speed up that process by drilling holes in the tree trunk. 

If your backyard doesn't accommodate that, has some other suggestions for ways to repurpose your tree. Check in with your local community to see if you can find places that would take your tree to use in these ways:
  • Fish feeders in private fish ponds
  • Soil erosion barriers to assist with shore stabilization 
  • Hiking trail path material
Like I said, ours will be going back in the box for the next 11 months, living it's own level of closed loop here at our house. But if you have the ability to give it back to nature, the birds and your local wildlife will thank you!

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