If you love the smell and ambiance a live Christmas tree can bring to your holiday season, you’ve probably also got a family tradition around choosing the perfect one, bringing it home, and decorating. But what if you could keep that tradition alive—literally—in your yard for decades to come?
The good news is there are plenty of options to do just that and, at the same time, something positive for the planet.
Decorate a tree in your back yard or local forest preserve
This will bring lots of holiday joy to the animal lovers in your circle! Just assemble your family and friends, create a host of edible decorations, and hang them on the tree of your choice. Citrus peel bird feeders are a great option to help wintering birds get the sustenance they need to survive. Cheerios or popcorn on a string make a lovely garland for animals (and kids) to munch. You can also hang dried apple or fruit slices on a tree, making adorable ornaments and giving the animals in your yard something to eat after the snow falls.
Part of the benefit of practicing this type of holiday tradition is that your children will learn about eco-friendly practices and the wildlife around them. If the decorated tree is located in your back yard, it’s an even better opportunity for kids to learn.
Replant and keep holiday memories alive all year long
Did you know that, historically, Christmas trees weren’t cut down, and instead the root ball was kept intact so that the tree could be replanted after the holiday season? What a great idea! It’s still possible to do this, although it requires some preplanning. Make sure to contact your local Christmas tree shop to see if they offer trees with the root ball intact. Once you get your tree, store it in the garage or basement for a few days so the temperature change indoors isn’t too shocking. Keep the root ball moist and covered in burlap or a blanket.
Plant the tree in a large tub packed with peat moss, sawdust or even shredded newspaper. Once you put it in your home, it’s best to remove it after seven to 10 days. (If your tree acclimates to the warmth inside, it might not survive being planted outdoors after the holidays.) When planting the tree outdoors, dig a hole about one and a half times larger than the root ball. If you think the ground will be too frozen to dig the hole in January, do the digging before the ground freezes.
Recycle your Christmas tree
Even if you decide to purchase a cut tree for your holiday celebration, one of the most environmentally friendly methods for disposing of it is to recycle it. Most municipalities turn old trees into mulch that can be used in playgrounds or gardens. Or, cut the tree up yourself, curing the trunk to use as firewood and stripping branches to use as covering for your garden through the winter.
No matter how you celebrate the holidays, supporting the environment with your holiday celebrations will make old and new traditions feel even better. So, this year, create sustainable new traditions that will keep our planet and our families healthy and happy.