EcoMuseum

Holiday tree recycling keeps the holiday spirit going

Whenever you interact with nature, it’s important to make sure that you treat it with the respect it deserves. The holiday tree tradition is one such situation. The smell of the needles and the thrill of picking out your favorite tree are just a few of the reasons why some people prefer a real holiday tree to a fake onealthough both are equally valid ways of celebrating.The Christmas tree tradition is said to date back to St. Boniface (c. 672-754), who put up the first holiday fir tree in the German town of Geismar. However, the tradition didn’t catch on until the 15th century in the region of Livonia (today Latvia and Estonia). A fraternal organization is said to have erected a holiday tree at their brotherhood house, then later moved it to the Town Hall Square, where the brothers danced around it. In the 16th century, it became an established tradition to set up a spruce in the market square, sing and dance around it, and then set the tree on fire. Other regions borrowed the tradition and adapted it as they saw fit.No matter how you choose to celebrate the holidays, if you use a tree or any other kind of largeshrub, it’s important to recycle it afterwards. Some big cities hold large after-holiday recycling drives, like Chicago’s Christmas Tree Recycle program at Wrigley Field. This initiative turns one hundred percent of the collected trees into mulch. Other cities, like San Diego, offer the option to either drop off your tree at a recycling center or have it collected curbside for a certain amount of time after the holidays. Remember to remove all decorations before recycling.What can such trees be used for, besides mulching? Some communities have used trees as erosion barriers on the shorelines of lakes and rivers. The tree material can also be used to cover nature trails, or serve as a feeding sanctuary for birds or fish.