Christmas is a magical time of year but it can also come with a lot of waste. Plastic decorations, non-recyclable wrapping paper and of course, your Christmas tree which is disposed of after a month.

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It doesn’t have to be this way though! We’re on a mission to make this Christmas the most sustainable one yet. We’re making DIY paper decorations, using furoshiki wrapping and making sure our Christmas tree disposal is as eco-friendly as can be.

According to the UK Gov, between six and eight million real Christmas trees are sold in the UK every year. Many of these end up in landfill which costs both the environment and the taxpayer. The cost of landfilling eight million trees averages around £22 million! This is why Christmas tree recycling is so important.

To help you join the Christmas tree recycling revolution, we’ve created a complete, eco-friendly Christmas tree disposal guide. We’ve included what happens, why it’s great and how you can get involved.

Take down those dec’s, it’s time to give your Christmas tree a new home.

What is Christmas tree recycling

Christmas tree recycling is the process of disposing of your tree in an eco-friendly way. You can either do this yourself or you can use a company, local authority service or charity to do it for you.

Whether you do it yourself or a company does, there’s two main ways of recycling Christmas trees – replanting or composting. Either of these methods is great for the planet and for your bank account!

Two at-home Christmas tree recycling methods

Replanting

Christmas trees are real, living plants which means they can be replanted and uprooted again year after year. Your Christmas tree will need to have roots in order to be planted so if this is something you’re considering make sure you check your tree when purchasing. Many Christmas trees from high street retailers are felled so are unable to be replanted.

If your Christmas tree does have roots, simply plant it in your back garden or in a pot and watch it grow. Make sure you keep it in a sheltered area and water once a week.

Your Christmas tree has probably dropped all its pine needles by now too! Make sure you collect them all up as they can be used in your garden to improve soil acidity levels. They make a great mulch for plants that require an ericaceous compost.

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Recycling

You can recycle your Christmas tree in multiple different ways. The most common way is through composting. It’s eco-friendly, great for the garden and avoids transport costs/emissions.

Start by cutting your Christmas tree into small pieces, the smaller they are the quicker they’ll decompose. Strip the needles and the branches from the trunk too. If you don’t have the equipment to break down your Christmas tree, many councils offer a shredding service. Head to your local council website to find your nearest shredding facility.

Top Tip: If you’re using a hand saw to break down your tree, make sure you clean it after because the sap from your tree will make it very sticky!

If you want to encourage wildlife into your garden, prop the trunk against a wall in your garden and string berries, bird feed and chopped fruits over it. You could also drill some little holes in it so it can become a bug hotel!

Alternatively, you could turn your Christmas tree into a ‘dead hedge’. As the RHS says, this involves packing prunings together and holding them via stout posts. Wildlife love these hedges as they make great protection against wintry weather.

Company Christmas tree recycling schemes

Local council collection and drop off

Many local councils offer free Christmas tree collection and have several location drop off points. Head to your local council website, or Google your area, and you should be able to find a scheme near you.

Where can I take my Christmas tree for recycling?

To find your local Christmas tree recycling scheme, enter your postcode into the Recycling Locator tool on the Recycle Now website.

When are your Christmas tree recycling dates?

Christmas tree collection dates vary depending on where you live. The majority will be collected early January, after New Year's Eve and any bank holidays.

It’s best to check your local council (you can also follow them on social media for regular updates) to find specific dates. There are plenty of variables as to when your tree will be collected including weather, strikes, etc so make sure you check the site regularly.

How to wrap a Christmas tree for disposal

Whether you’re taking your tree to a drop-off point or it’s being collected, wrapping up your tree will save you a lot of cleaning up later!

The easiest way to do this is by wrapping your tree in a plastic bag. You can place your plastic bag under your tree when you put it up (pop a Christmas tree skirt over the top of it to make it look pretty). This allows you to lift it over the tree when Christmas is over, stopping pine needles from spreading around the room.

It’s also important to wrap the stump in a plastic bag as it’ll be wet and probably rotting by now! You can reuse plastic/bin bags for this process and don’t worry – you’ll need to remove the plastic bags before you put it outside or leave it at the drop-off point. Then you can reuse the bag after, no plastic waste necessary!

Make this Christmas the most eco-friendly one yet!

Now you’ve recycled your Christmas tree it’s time to repurpose those Christmas cards! Use our sustainable Christmas garland tutorial to make a pretty decoration for next season.

Charity collection

There are hundreds of charities that offer to collect your Christmas tree for you. Charities will collect the tree from your home in return for a small donation. You can choose the time and date via most of the charity's booking systems.

The majority of charities take the trees to an approved composting site where they’re broken down in an eco-friendly way. The shreddings from the trees are often reused in local parks to make paths and playgrounds! It’s important to check the charity's Christmas tree recycling program before you commit to ensure it’s sustainable.

The site Christmas Trees has a brilliant tool that shows you all the charities which collect trees in your area. The list is extensive so you’re bound to find one near to you.

Make this Christmas extra green

Christmas recycling schemes are an important part of making Christmas a more sustainable holiday. Traditional Christmas tree disposal meant thousands of trees went to landfill, but these new schemes allow everyone to do their bit and help the planet!

Wrap up your tree and pick a method of recycling that works best for you. You can wave goodbye to this year’s tree safe in the knowledge it’s going back into the earth and making this world a little more green!

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Recycle more Christmas decor with Gathered

Christmas tree disposal sorted, now it’s time for all those cards! Discover 22 ways to recycle your Christmas cards and turn them into something new.

Authors

Phoebe Burt
Phoebe BurtSEO and Communities Editor, Gathered

Phoebe has worked for Gathered, and our sister magazine Mollie Makes, for 3 years. She manages our Arts & Crafts section and specialises in social media and content strategy. She has a background in all things marketing, a flair for Pinterest and a knack for finding the next big craft trend. Previously she worked as Digital Campaign Executive for Fat Media. You may recognise her name from Mollie Makes Social Media magazine, where she shared her expertise and top tips on becoming social media savvy.

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