Don’t Kick Your Christmas Tree to the Curb! Repurpose or Recycle It.

back to nature

To dwellers in a wood, almost every species of tree has its voice
as well as its feature.

―Thomas Hardy, Under the Greenwood Tree

The ball has dropped, it’s after New Year’s and time to undeck the halls and untrim the trees. Every year I see tons of trees sitting curbside waiting to be picked up with the trash and taken to the landfill; it makes me sad that they had purpose for such a short time. While I do think real trees are better than fake (especially if you buy one from a local, family owned business!) we can do better, people.

Get more out of your Christmas tree: repurpose or recycle it by giving it back to nature.

xmastree1

Gimme shelter

Birds and other wildlife need shelter from the elements and any stray cats or other predators that may be lurking. Simply drag your tree out to the yard rather than the curb, or make a brush pile with the branches. A simple family family project if you’re feeling festive is to hang some pine cone “ornaments” rolled in peanut butter and rolled in sunflower seeds to decorate your gift to your feathered and furry neighbors. (More edible ornament ideas for wildlife here.)

Mulch much?

Insulate your flower beds against cold temps with your pine needles. They’ll also suppress weeds, help retain moisture without allowing the soil to become compacted and are especially good around acidic-favoring plants like roses. Pine needles are soft to walk over, and just look more natural and woodsy than your typical store bought mulches— you’re not going to get a ton out of your one tree, of course; consider asking your neighbors if you can have theirs too.

If you’re local (upper Delaware), you can drop your tree off at a DNREC site where they’re recycled with other yard waste and ground into mulch. I believe this mulch is available periodically for New Castle County residents for free.

Worm Food

If you’re a composter, pine needles will keep your pile nice and fluffy so it stays aerated and “hot.” They can take a while to break down though, so it’s recommended that you either run them over with a lawn mower before adding or use the needles that have already spent a season pulling mulch duty. Keep pine needles to about 10% of your total compost pile at any given time.

load of trees

Donate

Check around for local restoration efforts or animal sanctuaries that are asking for tree donations. In Louisiana they use them to restore the wetlands; in other places leftover Christmas trees preserve sand dunes. Locally, the Tri-State Bird Rescue adds trees to the birds’ cages for “cover, perches and warmth” and to make them more natural, less stressful; you can take evergreens there from 9-5 seven days a week. Some zoos and animal sanctuaries will accept trees for animal enrichment (drop off to the main lot of the Plumpton Park Zoo in Maryland, locals).

I’ve also heard that people hang on to the pine needles, sealed tight in the freezer, and simmer on the stovetop or pack into sachets for natural air freshening. I’ve not tried this so I don’t know how effective it is, but it can’t hurt to try.

Any other ways to repurpose or recycle your Christmas tree? Let me know!

 

Light It Up.

monarch butterfly

Why do you go away?

So that you can come back.

So that you can see the place you came from
with new eyes and extra colors.

And the people there see you differently, too.

Coming back to where you started
is not the same as never leaving.

―Terry Pratchett, A Hat Full of Sky

 

So, I was having some issues behind the scenes here— basically, I was locked out of my blogs. I’d click the link to be sent a new password, but I’ve been blogging so long now that the password was going to a now-defunct email address. It was frustrating and sort of scary while also being sort of freeing; I didn’t feel that constant guilt about not posting as frequently as I would like.

Well, as they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder, and in a short time I had an impressive list of things I really did want to write about. I harassed my hosting service with pathetic pleas for help and they did their magic. I’ve spent a few weeks cleaning up some messes in the backend, and today here I am again.

And again, I feel like my focus for this blog has shifted since the last time I really gave it some thought, but one thing I know for sure: I want to partially return to where I began, with photography and stories and mindfulness and introspection. (Even if, as least for a while, I am stuck with what I can manage to capture through the lens of my aging iPhone.)

Too many hours spent multi-tasking on a computer screen and being always a step behind, an hour beyond deadline, running late for important dates, has left me feeling stressed and scatterbrained. I crave finding connections and sharing really deep thinking, no matter how trivial it may seem.

Blogging for me began as an outlet and quickly became a job, then an obligation, then a chore.

Now? Now I hope it will be a spark. I want to get all fired up about things again.

Certain bodies… become luminous when heated.

Their luminosity disappears after some time,

but the capacity of becoming luminous afresh through heat

is restored to them by the action of a spark.

― Marie Curie

 

 

Light it up.

 

Love This: Lifefactory Glass Food Containers and Water Bottles

glass bottle Now that’s what I call high quality H2O!

-Bobby Boucher, The Waterboy

Note: this post contains affiliate links, meaning if you click through to Amazon I get a small % of any resulting sales. If you’d prefer not to use those links, you can check out the full Lifefactory line on their site.

I work out 4-6 times a week. Maverick comes with me 3-4 of those times. Cassidy has soccer practice and games. We drink a LOT of water in this house: during workouts, and in between.

At home, we use the CamelBak Relay Pitcher I was sent on behalf of the Fitness Magazine FitBlog event to filter our hard well water (I should really write a separate post about that, we love it). But on the go, I have one true love and that is Lifefactory glass water bottles.

Why? There are a couple of reasons:

  • I’m convinced stainless steel and reusable plastic water bottles retain some taste from the dishwasher or from dish soap. It can be helped by using special cleaning tabs (or you can use something like Efferdent) but I’d be using those all. the. time.
  • I don’t like that I can’t see inside stainless steel bottles to make sure they’re not building up funk inside.
  • Glass bottles, by contrast, can go into the dishwasher and come out clean— no extra step.
  • There’s none of the “do they or don’t they?” concerns about chemicals leaching like you have with plastic bottles.
  • Glass is infinitely recyclable.
  • Lifefactory glass bottles are clothed in a silicone sleeve so they’re super sturdy (we’ve had ours for years now and trust me, they’ve taken some abuse), don’t leak even a little bit so I am comfortable tossing in my gymbag or a kids’ backpack, and come in a bunch of fun colors.

 

I scanned back through some of my Instagram and Facebook posts and easily came up with proof that my Lifefactory bottles rarely leave my side:

No joke, this pic used to be on some of my business cards

No joke, this pic used to be on some of my business cards

lifefactory

 

You get the idea. I prefer the flat cap that screws on & off easily; it’s widemouthed so I can add ice cubes or protein powder. But they also sell with a flipcap or a straw cap.

Well, I just discovered that Lifefactory now has food storage containers! We already use Pyrex glass containers for our leftovers, but I’ve never used them for packing lunches because I was afraid they’d get broken. These come in 1, 2, and 4 cup sizes and the smaller ones would be PERFECT for kid lunchboxes.

 

glass storage containers

 

These may seem expensive out of the gate, but I know I’m forever replacing plastic tupperware, especially small ones. The lids fall onto the dishwasher bottom and get mangled, they crack, and pretty much the first time anyone uses it to hold onions or anything with red sauce it’s done for.

 

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Lifefactory also has water or wine glasses (depending on the day you’ve had. With different color sleeves, you’ve never take someone else’s glass by accident again!) and baby bottles (4 and 9 oz), as well as silicone teethers. The baby bottles are made from thermal shock resistant borosilicate glass, so they can transition safely from freezer to boiling water. You can also buy sippy caps or flat caps for these bottles, so they’ll get years and years of use! Cass has a 9oz bottle with a flat cap and it fits into her lunchbox (it’s the only bottle Jeff will let me use to pack milk in his lunch on PB&J days).

 

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Now, I’m really hoping that you don’t need to be sold on the idea of reusables in general. Plastic doesn’t go away, and reusables divert a ton of waste from landfills. They also alleviate a lot of concerns about chemicals released when plastics break down over time.

So any reusable is better than none. But IMHO, Lifefactory is the best. Who do you like?