A whopping 160,000 tonnes of trees will get dumped in landfill after the festive period is over. Collectively, these rotting Christmas trees create 100,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases every year.
A huge amount of trees will also get burnt. Despite being carbon neutral, a joint study by Greenpeace and The Guardian revealed that nearly 50,000 children across England and Wales are exposed to dangerous levels of air pollution. The increased popularity of wood burners is making the problem worse – according to King’s College London, wood-burning in London accounts for up to 31% of the city’s particulate pollution – an increase of 10%.
We’ve rounded up ten exciting and eco-friendly ways to recycle your Christmas tree. No burning or dumping needed.
1) Replant or return your tree
If you’ve got a potted Christmas tree, you can replant it back in your garden. Why not create our vegan 3-ingredient bird feeder recipe and fill it with bird food? If you’ve rented a tree, you just need to return it to the farm that supplied it. Some Christmas tree farms even offer a collection service. This growing option is worth keeping in mind for next year.
2) Recycle your tree
Most councils offer a Christmas tree recycling service. These trees are usually chipped and used as compost. Check with your local council to see if they offer Christmas tree drop off points, or collection. If your council does not offer Christmas tree recycling, the best option is to take it to the garden waste section of the tip.
3) Create story sets
A lovely way to extend your tree’s life is to transform into a sensory play kit. Saw up your tree stump into slices and paint them with items from your child’s favourite book. Perhaps you want to create emotion bags, with different faces for children to help communicate their feelings, or paint a mix of items and play story telling games based on what object or character comes out of the bag.
4) Create a wildlife sanctuary
Chop up your tree and create a log pile in your garden to provide shelter for hedgehogs, bugs and insects. You can also stuff foliage inside a large flower pot, turn it on its side for bees and other insects to nest in
5) Make potpourri
Put those fallen pine needles to good use. Collect them up and add a cinnamon stick, cloves, nutmeg and lemon and orange rind to make your own potpourri. Sprinkle it into the base of bins or put into decorative bowls in damp rooms to enjoy the festive scent throughout January. Alternatively, store the needles in paper bags or sachets to use as fresheners. The needles will retain their scent and freshen your home and drawers year-round.
6) Make tree trunk coasters or decorations
For those with a creative flare, this one’s for you. Prolong the life of your tree's trunk into coasters or decorations. Use a saw to cut your Christmas tree trunks into small slices before sanding them down and covering with a stain. Top tip: make sure you seal the coasters before using them to prevent the sap from leaking. Alternatively, you can paint on them and create decorations for next year or to make reusable gift tags with.
7) Create wood chip mulch
Convert your old Christmas tree into useful wood chip mulch by putting it through a shredder. If you don’t own a shredder, you can rent one, ask a neighbour, put out an ask on Facebook or contact your local gardening club. Stack the chips at the back of a border for a few months to rot down before using them to mulch around trees and shrubs. Mulching around spring bulbs as they die back will feed the bulbs and lock in moisture when they need it most. Mulching also reduces the need for digging, which can lead to bulb damage.
8) Plant it as a frame for scented climbers
If your tree still has its roots, plant it in your garden border to help climbers such as sweet peas over it. No need to waste money on trellis! For the best scents plant honeysuckle, star jasmine, sweet pea and jasmine.
9) Arrange a centerpiece or wreath
Use tree clippings to create a warming and impressive table centerpiece. Use a bamboo hoop and floral wire to tie the tree clippings into place. Add other foliage including thistles, holly and berries. Pop a candle in the middle. When you’re finished with your table piece, hang it up as a wreath decoration.
10) Make mini chalk boards
Another way to use up tree slices is to paint them with chalkboard paint. They make a really nice tactile tool to help teach your child the alphabet or with counting. Perhaps you can draw on shapes for a treasure hunt around the house or garden. Even better, hand your children some chalk and see what games and drawings they come up with.