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I love to recycle Christmas trees, flowers, and other holiday decorations I use throughout the year.
Some eco-conscious folks simply don’t buy decorations that need to be discarded after their useful life is over.
I get that, and respect that. But, I like the smell of fir Christmas trees in the winter, the sweet scent of Easter lilies in the spring, and giving my beloved flowers for Valentines, her birthday, and on anniversaries.
So, I compromise by enjoying the holiday traditions I love and then recycling the organic materials after I’m finished using them. It’s the best way to enjoy the holidays and show my love to our green-and-blue planet we call home!
What can you do with Christmas trees, poinsettia plants, holly wreaths, anniversary flowers, fall leaves, pumpkins, and other pretty, smell-good organic matter after the holidays are over?
Don’t just trash them!
Here are some ideas to help you recycle Christmas trees, flowers from special occasions, holiday plants, natural garland, and other organic holiday decorations…
#1 – Recycle Christmas Trees & Flowers By Mulching Them
One of my favorite ways to recycle Christmas trees, fresh-cut flowers, and plants is to mulch them.
What this does is it breaks down the organic matter into an attractive landscape cover that will help to retain moisture in my hedges, flower beds, and around the bases of trees and ornamentals.
Mulch can also feed nutrients back into the soil, helping plants to grow better.
Additionally, mulch is decorative — adding color, character, and polish to an area that would otherwise show exposed, bare soil.
Fresh mulch doesn’t keep its rich color, fluff, or moisture-retaining qualities forever. Your homemade mulch can last anywhere from 6 months to 2 years before needing to be replaced, depending on:
- The type of mulch you use
- How thick the layer of mulching is
- Your current soil conditions
- Exposure of the mulch to direct sunlight and moisture
TIP: Christmas tree recycling is a huge thing in many communities. Be sure to check with your local waste management company, city hall, or county government to find out what initiatives are offered in your area. Many Christmas tree recycling programs are free, and they usually offer free or discounted mulch. So, please do take part if you’re able!
#2 – Compost Decorative Holiday Plants
I wouldn’t throw something as large and awkward as a Christmas tree into my small backyard compost pile.
Even if you can’t recycle Christmas trees in your compost heap, you might still be able to compost smaller organic items — such as flower bouquets, Halloween pumpkins & gourds, and fresh-cut plants.
I find the best way to help the compost process along for plants, pumpkins, gourds (and, really, just about anything else) going into the compost heap is to break things down into smaller chunks.
- Cut down flower stalks and other plant material into segments less than 1 foot long.
- Chop up pumpkins and gourds into halves or quarters to expose the inside of the fruit and expedite the natural breakdown process.
- Break down natural wreaths, garland, and bunting into small segments measuring less than 6 to 12 inches in length.
Remember to remove any ribbons, metal ties, glass ornaments, plastic pieces, and all other non-organic materials. Not only won’t these materials break down, but they will also hamper the composting process and damage the purity of your compost heap with what amounts to non-biodegradable trash!
And, don’t forget to turn your compost pile every so often to help the composting process along.
Your compost heap will need a good balance of the following to further aid in the natural decomposition process:
- Nitrogen — comes from manure, food scraps, grass clippings, and other green materials
- Carbon — derived from dead leaves, newspaper shreds, hay, wood chips, and other brown material
#3 – Press Flowers, Leaves & Other Colorful Organic Items
I haven’t pressed flowers myself. But I have several friends who enjoy pressing flowers, fall leaves, and other small, beautiful, colorful organic items.
I know that a lot of people press their holiday flowers to remember special occasions — such as anniversaries, Mother’s Day, birthdays, weddings, and other joyous occasions.
Here are a few great guides to help you start pressing flowers and leaves yourself:
- Guide To Pressing Flowers
- Want To Press Flowers? Start By Picking The Right Flowers
- 4 Different Ways To Press Leaves
- How To Make Your Own Pressed Flowers
- Pressing Flowers Video By Martha Stewart
- 1000+ Fun Ideas For Pressed Flowers & Leaves
Christmas Tree Recycling Do’s & Don’ts
While I may not be a flower and leaf pressing aficionado, I do know a few things about how to recycle Christmas trees, flowers, gourds, and other organic holiday decorations.
Here are some helpful do’s and don’ts to help you stay as green as possible next holiday:
- Buy living Christmas trees, set them in pots, and display them in your house during the holiday season. Then, plant them in your yard — when they become too big to enjoy in your home.
- Buy environmentally conscious flowers and plants that were grown responsibly and delivered with minimum transport — to help reduce carbon emissions and wasteful use of energy.
- Buy organic Christmas trees, flowers, and other organic holiday decorations because they’re healthier for you and your family — especially when displayed indoors in a closed environment.
- Buy trees, plants, and flowers that have been treated with synthetic chemicals — such as pesticides, herbicides, and other unnatural additives. Such chemicals are unhealthy for you, can harm the environment, and can contaminate other material with which they’re recycled.
- Burn any organic matter — such as trees, leaves, flowers, wreaths, and other holiday decorations. Burning these materials pollutes the air, is unhealthy for you & others, and can potentially cause wildfires.
- Indiscriminately throw away Christmas trees, flowers, plants, gourds, and wreaths in your regular trash bin or curbside waste collection — because they can be recycled and shouldn’t be co-mingling with ordinary disposables. Depending on the rules of your waste management company, you may even get fined for leaving recyclable organic matter in your regular trash pickup!
More Green Ideas For Christmas Trees, Holiday Plants & Flowers
In addition to the links I’ve included above, here are some additional
- Reduce Your Waste With Green Holiday Decorations & Crafts
- Zero Waste Holiday Decor For Your Home
- 10 Uses For Your Dead Christmas Tree
- How To Buy, Plant Living Evergreens
- 5 Tips For A Green Halloween
- Pros & Cons Of Real vs Artificial Christmas Trees
- 5 Simple Ways To Recycle Fresh-Cut Flowers
- 10 Ways To Recycle Christmas Trees
As an advocate for good health, I usually try to choose the ‘greener’ option over other more dangerous and/or wasteful options. Generally speaking, if it’s bad for your health or the planet, I try to avoid it. In my effort to live green, I like to find new (healthier) budget-friendly ways to do things — from cleaning to recycling to home decorating. My goal is to help you take the chore out of living green by sharing fun new ecofriendly ideas that you can try today… or any day! My all-time favorite way to live green is to repurpose items and give them a new use — and I’ve written a lot of DIY articles showing how I’ve done it.