Green Ways to Recycle Your Christmas Tree

Christmas trees that are locally grown, cut, and recycled are about as eco-friendly as it gets. Most cities these days have recycling programs where Christmas trees are collected and chipped up into wood mulch to use in city parks.

The City of Bismarck offers Christmas tree pickup from December 30 through January 9. Trees need to have all lights, decorations, and tree stands removed-yes, that even includes the tiniest bits of tinsel! They also cannot be wrapped in plastic bags; trees need to be fully uncovered to qualify for pickup.

Set your tree out at your regular trash collection point on your regular pickup day. All the apartments, condos, and townhomes in Bismarck wishing to take advantage of this service should set their trees on the boulevard for collection. A separate truck will come around to pick up Christmas trees for recycling.

If you miss the pickup day or are wondering what other ways a Christmas tree can be recycled, here are 7 other eco-friendly tree recycling ideas:

  1. Erosion Control: Sometimes the state fish & wildlife department will take Christmas trees for recycling. They can be used to restore and stabilize riverbanks, creeks, or sand dunes to prevent erosion.
  2. Neighborhood Chipping Party: Get your neighbors together and share the cost for the rental of a wood chipper for a day. Make it a block party; prepare some hot chocolate and cookies, share some holiday cheer with your neighbors, and send everybody home with some fresh mulch for their landscapes.
  3. Firewood: if you've got a saw, you can de-limb your tree, cut it into chunks, and stack it for firewood. It'll probably take at least a year to cure and dry enough to burn well. Make it an annual tradition and you'll always have a supply of wood for your fireplace!
  4. Needle Mulch: If you're going to keep it for firewood, stack all the limbs of your tree somewhere where you need some mulch. Pine needles are excellent for mulching. Let them sit in place through the winter. As they dry, the needles will gradually fall off the branches. When they're fully dry, give them a good shake to get the last few off, and stack the wood into your kindling pile.
  5. Bird Shelter: Set your tree up somewhere near bird feeders, or turn it into a bird feeding station. Make some homemade feeders with peanut butter, bird seed, and oats, then spread it thickly onto some pinecones and hang them in the tree. The little birds will be happy for a source of food and shelter, and the woodpeckers will be thrilled with your peanut butter pine cones.
  6. Wildlife Enrichment: Sometimes zoos, wildlife rehabilitation centers, or fish and wildlife can recycle Christmas trees. Zoos and rehab centers can use them for enrichment and entertainment activities for animals. Fish & Wildlife can sometimes use them to create habitat and shelter for fish and other aquatic critters in ponds and lakes.
  7. Get Crafty: If you're handy with woodworking tools, you could delimb your tree and harvest some of the larger branches for woodworking. You can use the tree to make wooden ornaments, picture frames, or simple toys that could be gifted to friends and family next year at Christmas.

If you purchased your tree from Plant Perfect in Bismarck this year, we really appreciate you supporting local business, and we hope you'll consider an eco-friendly way to recycle your Christmas tree after the holidays are over.

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