English: Pine tree (Pinus strobus) needles in ...

English: Pine tree (Pinus strobus) needles in the winter (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While we still have some time left to enjoy our Christmas trees, wreaths and garland, we do have to decide what we are going to do with these items after the holidays are over. Of course, one option is to sit your tree curbside to be picked up by your local trash collector. A glance at the pickup schedule will give you the dates for curbside pickup. Most localities will recycle these materials for mulch.

If you would like to start the year off right with a strong commitment to living green, there are other alternatives for your greenery. Today we will review a few of these ideas, and maybe you will find a suggestion you want to try.

  • Some Christmas trees can be recycled for medicinal purposes, such as pine sap used as an antibacterial to seal wounds. See website http://www.livestrong.com/article/256118-uses-of-pine-tar-ointment/. Along these same lines, pine needles can be used for medicinal teas, which are purportedly beneficial for antibacterial infections. This idea does come with a caveat. It is mandatory that you know what kind of tree you have. Many trees on the market today are fir, rather than pine. You do not want to consume fir needles ever.
  • Thickener. Pine cones can be ground up and used as a thickener like flour or corn starch. The inner bark of the pine tree is full of Vitamin C. Once again, you must know definitively that you have a pine tree.
  • Firewood and starter. Once the wood has dried out completely, it can be used for firewood. It is important to monitor the buildup of creosote in your chimney as these softer woods do cause a fast buildup. However, these products are great for outdoor use in bonfires or fire pits.
  • Fish covers and habitats. If you have a pond, sunken trees make a great fish cover. It is important that you check local regulations prior to sinking trees in lakes to create fishing spots.
  • Fertilizer. Ground pine trees can be used in your home compost pile. If you have alkaline soil, this much will lower the pH.
  • Potpourri. The needles from pine, spruce or fir trees can be combined with other scented plants, cloves, or orange peels and essential oils to creat great scents for the home that also can be used for gifts.

If you are not interested in taking on any of the above-mentioned projects, you still can discard your Christmas tree in a manner that is environmentally conscientious. The National Christmas Tree Association’s website contains very helpful information on conservation projects which use real Christmas trees. Some of these suggestions also make excellent projects for scouts and other community organizations. Please go to http://www.realchristmastrees.org/dnn/default.aspx for further information.

The Christmas holiday is a wonderful time to celebrate life, renewal and the environment. This gift-giving time presents a unique opportunity to give back to the earth. Your recycled trees are fully biodegradable and can be used in so many ways to live green, be green.