Christmas Tree Recycling 2020: 12 Ways to Repurpose Holiday Decor

Pile of Christmas trees beside a sign that says, Compost your Christmas tree here.

The holidays have passed, and if you’re wondering, “How do I dispose of a Christmas tree?” here’s an alternative. Instead of throwing holiday decorations in the trash, consider recycling your Christmas tree. You can give it a new lease on life in your garden, allowing it to return naturally to the earth.

Here are tips to do just that!

Christmas trees piled on top of each other, awaiting recycling in a community park.
Chances are, your community has a Christmas tree recycling program. (DepositPhotos)

Christmas Tree Recycling: For the Community’s Benefit

Many communities offer a Christmas tree recycling service, picking up discarded trees and grinding them into mulch for use in public parks and landscapes.

Participating in the program is easy. You just drop trees off at a designated pick-up site, although some cities may also collect them from your curb.

To learn whether your community has this kind of program, contact your local agricultural extension agent or community lawn waste collection service.


Wooden fence, made from recycled Christmas trees, bordering a beautiful beach at sunrise.
Recycling your Christmas tree today could mean protecting beaches and wetlands from erosion later. (DepositPhotos)

Thinking Outside the Box

In addition to making mulch, here are some fun facts about recycling Christmas trees.

    • The needles of many varieties of Christmas trees contain shikimic acid, an important ingredient in the antiviral drug Tamiflu
    • Christmas tree recycling makes building ‘tree fences’ possible. These play a vital role in protecting beaches and wetlands from erosion and hurricane damage.
    • You can use ground-up Christmas trees as boiler fuel in manufacturing.
    • Some communities deposit Christmas trees into wildlife reserves, to provide habitat and nesting structures for birds and small animals. These habitats help attract and protect endangered species.
    • Dropped into lakes and ponds, old Christmas trees provide a great habitat for fish, particularly in man-made lakes that may not have natural underwater structures.
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7 COMMENTS

  1. i read somewhere that the needles of the trees can be placed in distilled alcohol and used like pinesol. also my husband keeps the barks for years and carves them into canes or other art works. what do you guys have for ideas?

  2. Cleaners such as “Pine-Sol” contain pine oil and isopropyl alcohol, and homemade pine cleaner recipes have similar ingredients. Seems like your recipe would be a good home-grown idea, but I haven’t been able to find any specific information on it. Your husband’s carvings sound beautiful! Christmas trees provide great materials for art and life.

  3. I am as big a fan of going green for Christmas, but I generally focus my efforts on putting up LED Christmas lights around my house. I had never realized all the ways one could recycle a tree.

    • Absolutely, Max! We’re glad this article inspired you. Let us know if you come up with additional great ideas to recycle Christmas decorations. 🙂

  4. Has anyone ever frozen Christmas tree branches in say plastic bags to reuse during the year for potpourri? Was thinking about trying it. Then pull a bag out of the freezer and boil for homemade potpourri through out the year.

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