Alas, another holiday season has come and gone leaving most of us with a slowly decaying tree in our living rooms. Once lush and green, the millions of Douglas Firs shedding their needles over millions of rugs are now destined for either one of two places, the landfill or the mulch pile.
You might think that there’s no real harm in tossing out your tree with the rest of the garbage. But since trees, like all other plants, are organic they have a nasty habit of decomposing inside landfills, resulting in the production of leachate (a slurry mix of contaminated solid and liquid wastes) and methane. Methane is a greenhouse gas that is a much more potent insulator than carbon dioxide, making landfills an object of concern among climate scientists and environmentalists alike.
So if you don’t want your tree contributing to the earth’s current greenhouse gas ticker, consider taking that sad old tree to a neighborhood chipper or drop-off location. Individual cities and counties will often offer drop-off locations for residents to deposit their trees for mulching. Additionally, many retail stores will offer their own tree collection events, free of charge.
Besides mulching, some towns will use collected trees for erosion control. Old Christmas trees placed along roads, ponds, and other wash-prone areas help retain the soil, preventing it from being swept away during heavy rains or melt.
Either way you decide to recycle your tree, just remember to take off those glass ornaments and tinsel. Those are definitely not going to sound good running through a wood chipper.