New Castle News

December 30, 2013

Making the most of Christmas trees after the holiday

Joe Lamp'l
Scripps Howard News Service

Scripps Howard News Service — The disposable cut Christmas tree of yesteryear is today a valuable addition as organic material used for mulch, compost and soil improvement.

Gone are the days when trees were simply tossed to the curb, where they became a heterogeneous mixture when combined with all the other Christmas discards destined for the landfill.

These days, most municipalities will pick up your tree for free, and it’s separated from landfill trash. Trees are collected for composting or shredded into mulch with infinite uses and benefits.

Even if no such service is available in your area, there are locations around every town that will accept your tree for free. Or consider organizations such as the Boy Scouts of America who will, for a nominal fee, pick up your tree and take it to the appropriate location for recycling.

In the event any of those options are more than you want to deal with, a discarded tree left to decompose on its own can provide important shelter for birds and wildlife as it breaks down.

For any of the above options, trees should be free of that silver tinsel stuff. It’s made of plastic, which never fully biodegrades. It’s bad stuff for the environment.

(Joe Lamp’l, host of “Growing a Greener World” on PBS, is the founder of The joe gardener Company, devoted to environmentally responsible gardening and sustainable outdoor living.)