Do you STILL have a Christmas Tree?

Not judging, but some of us keep our Christmas Trees around way longer than we should. And so what? The trees smell nice, look pretty, and remind us of the holidays. They’re also heavy and hard to carry out the door.

However, when we finally realize that it’s now late-February and there is still tinsel littering the living room, a whole new activity magically appears: spotting old and abandoned Christmas trees on street curbs.

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‘Tis the season.

This may not sound like a fun hobby, but trust me that it is. It also lives within a very narrow window, and now is the perfect time to spot an out-of-season holiday tree in your neighborhood.

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Sleep well, little tree.

But after all the holiday fun and cheer, where do these trees go and what happens to them?

TLDR: Trees are plants. Plants can get composted. Tinsel and ornaments are made of plastics. Plastic cannot be composted.

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Photo creds: me, 2015

 

Trees get collected by a waste hauler just like the rest of your trash, then get taken to a transfer station, where they are sorted away from the other material for further processing.

  • Sent through a wood chipper and turned into biofuel (burned for energy)
  • Mulched into compost (mixed with other plants/food scraps and eaten by microbes)
  • Something cool could happen to them

SF trees have been taken to barren lakes/ponds/reservoirs and strung together to be used as baby fish habitat. The baby fish swim between the branches to hide from predators, and the limbs grow algae which feed the baby fish and other aquatic creatures.

SF Trees in Lakes- SFGate

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Photo: Michael Macor, The Chronicle (see SFGate link)

 

THIS IS SO COOL! Using what could be called ‘trash’ to create an environmentally safe fish habitat. This diverts useful material from being lost to the landfill, provides habitat, supports biodiversity, and increases the fish population.

I give this an 8 out of 10 compost bins.

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Or the trees could go to a landfill where they’re buried in the ground, compacted under a layer of dirt, never decompose because of the lack of oxygen, and produce methane gas which pollutes…

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So if you still have a tree in your house, don’t despair. Go ahead and strip off the tinsel, ornaments, and lights. Drag it out to the curb with pride. Take a picture and send it to me at garbagegirlblog@gmail.com.

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Special thanks to friend of the blog, Edie, for all of these tree photos!

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