Consumer Products

Americans Throw Out 30 Million Christmas Trees

Just shy of 30 million Christmas trees are sold each year in the United States. Now that the holiday is over and many of those trees have become dry, Americans have to dispose of them. Most are hauled away or put into trash dumps. Some are burned or throw into wooded areas. Virtually all will be gone by a month from now.

It is a shame Christmas trees are not in American homes longer. According to the National Christmas Tree Association, 350 million trees are being grown to replace those that are in use for a few weeks each year. Among them, these Christmas tree farms cover over 350,000 acres. A Christmas tree farmer has to wait seven years, on average, from when a tree is planted to when it can be sold.

Tree disposal experts have come up with creative alternatives to trash bins and trash dumps. In some areas around large rivers, they are put into the water to create food for fish. Also, trees can be used to create arts and crafts for the months after a Christmas tree is taken down. This has been dubbed “Christmas Tree 365.”  Some gardeners and farmers use the trees for compost.

Many Christmas trees are never saved for life after the holiday. They rot in waste dumps and within several months are largely gone.

For those who do not know what to do with their trees, the Christmas Tree Association has some suggestions:

  • Curbside pick-up for recycling: Many providers will collect trees during regular pick-up schedules on the two weeks following Christmas. There are often requirements for size, removing ornaments, flocking and so on.
  • Take trees to a drop-off recycling center: Most counties have free drop-off locations. Usually, up to two trees may be dropped off at no charge.
  • Yard waste: Cut the tree to fit loosely into your yard waste container.
  • Tree recycling/mulching programs: These programs are a fast-growing trend in communities throughout the nation. Check with your local department of public works for information. They chip and shred the trees, then make the mulch available for use in gardens. Haulers will notify you of pick-up dates in your area. Be sure to check with your local hauler.
  • Nonprofit pickup: Call for an appointment to have a local nonprofit organization pick up the tree. Some Boy Scout troops offer a pickup service for a small donation (often $5).

Alternatively, the association suggests people buy a live tree, tend it and use it next year.

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