Old trees can have new life

Published 9:06 pm Monday, December 27, 2010

Now that Christmas is over, there’s still plenty of work to be done.

There are mounds of wrapping paper to throw away, lights to take down and Christmas trees to dispose of.

However, the National Christmas Tree Association, which advocates the use of real Christmas trees, has a few suggestions for reusing that tree rather than letting it be hauled away.

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“We encourage people to recycle,” said Becky Rasmussen, assistant director of the association. “There are different ways to recycle.”

Some communities will mulch the trees and sell the mulch back to consumers, Rasmussen said. In addition, the park service in some places will put the trees out in the wild to make habitat for woodland creatures or will sink them into lakes and ponds to create fish habitat.

For reuse by humans, the most common method is to have the trees mulched. Some nursery and garden centers will accept the trees and provide the mulch back to their customers.

Even the tree farms that grow the trees are getting into the movement to recycle trees, Rasmussen said.

“Many of our tree farms have gotten into the part of recycling, too,” she said.

If residents cannot find a business or service to accept the tree, there are a number of ways they can reuse it themselves.

Those with lakes and ponds or large areas of wildland on their property can use the trees to create habitat like Rasmussen described.

Even those with smaller properties can help the wildlife in the area by creating a feeder. The tree can be propped up outside and strung with popcorn and cranberries, or hung with bird and squirrel food.

Whenever trees are placed outside — even if it’s to wait for the trash pickup — care should be taken to remove all decorations from the tree, including tinsel, ornament hangers and fake snow. These items could be harmful to pets or wild animals that get to them.