Earth Issues

Waste not want not: recycle your Christmas tree

 | December 28, 2011

by Kate Longmoore

Since my life began as a seedling years ago, I have existed for one primary purpose – to spread joy and holiday cheer during the Christmas season. Being the center of attention comes and goes as the decorations go up and come down, but are you aware of just how brief my life cycle is?

It all starts with my production in a nursery. When I’m old enough, I’m cut down, fastened to a vehicle and transported to the home of a loving family where I’m decorated and put on display. For the duration of the holiday season, I’m the main feature of family gatherings and I always take centre stage on Christmas morning. But when the holiday season ends and Christmas decorations are put back in storage, I’ll be left out in the cold. The final stage of my life will involve being sent to a landfill where I’ll slowly decompose . . . or worse, go to an incinerator to meet a fiery death!

I’m speaking out to say that it doesn’t have to end like this.

Millions of Canadians will have a Christmas tree this year, but many don’t recognize that I and thousands of my fellow tree friends can be recycled and put to greater use. Adding to this bad news for us trees, one in three Canadians aren’t even sure if a tree recycling program exists in their community!

To my relief and that of thousands of natural Christmas trees across the country, there are ways we can be re-used long after the holiday season has come and gone. The best thing to do with your tree after Christmas has passed is to recycle it. You can recycle me through tree mulching and recycling programs, which are both fast-growing practices across Canada. Once trees are recycled, we can be turned into erosion barriers, garden mulch and can even be used to create feeding grounds for lake fish.

Christmas trees aren’t just a symbol for cheer and tradition; we can be recycled to have a tangible, positive affect on the environment long after the holiday season is over.

Christmas tree recycling is available at the Heffley Creek Landfill, and other locations in the City of Kamloops, from Dec. 29 until Jan. 18. In the 2010-11 holiday season, 3,616 trees were recycled in Kamloops, with 400 of those being composted. To date, Kamloops has recycled almost 150,000 trees. Click here for facility information.