Christmas recycling

Each year, as Christmas approaches families across Australia enjoy putting up their Christmas tree, sending out Christmas cards to loved ones and stocking their fridges with cold, thirst-quenching beverages. Preparing for the festive season can spark joy and have an either positive or negative impact on the environment. Christmas trees and cards bring fun and excitement for all. While beverages help keep thirsty guests satisfied.


Repurposing your fresh Christmas Tree

Once the Christmas is over, presents have been unwrapped and your fresh tree starts to shed needles taking it down can feel melancholiac. The good news, the tree that bought you so much delight does not have to go to waste. There are a number of ways of reusing the tree. These include creating and bird sanctuary, adding the tree to the garden, making a fish habitat, DIY potpourri or make pine needle tea (1).

To watch birds enjoy the tree remove all decorations, including every last piece of tinsel. This is crucial to avoid a choking hazard for wildlife. Move your tree outside in its stand. You can decorate your tree with pine cones, seeds and leaves from around the garden. This will create a bird playhouse. You can also add your own bird feeder using an old tea cup. Many ideas can be found here - . Once the birds have enjoyed your tree and it has dried up you can recycle into garden waste or hold onto it for your winter bonfire.

To use the tree in the garden you can simply chop the trunk and branches. The pine needles can be used to cover a garden bed or as compost to enrich soil. Pine needles dry quickly but decompose slowly. They are a wonderful mold-free mulch. The branches of tree can be used to edge a garden while the trunk can be provide a great rest stop for critters and birds. The trunk can also be cut into miniature rounds to be used in an upright position to edge garden beds or other garden features. Like Pine needles, Pine trunks decompose slowly and will nourish soil to improve the condition of garden beds.

Fish need areas in their water to hide from predators. This is where your Christmas tree can come in handy! In nature, branches will often fall into ponds and rivers. In manicured garden ponds and water features fish have fewer option to choose from to hide. Adding branches from your Christmas tree may help keep your fish safe from pesky predators. Pine branches will also provide a habitat that will attract algae for the fish to eat!

Reusing your Christmas tree to make your own potpourri will give you a sweet smelling natural air freshner. This is a simple and rewarding task. Just crush up the pine needles and place in little bowls or sachets around your home. In addition to the needles you can include orange peels, cinnamon sticks, whole cloves or a few drops of your favourite essential oil. The possibilities are infinite!

Pine needle tea is a great way to use the pine needles. You want to make sure your tree hasn't been treated with any chemicals though! Most pine needles can be enjoyed with the exception of Ponderosa Pine, AKA the Bull Pine, Blackjack Pike, Western Yellow Pine and Yew Pine (1). When consuming pine tea you will benefit from high levels of Vitamin C and A, carotenoids and antioxidants. To make pine needle tea, collect pine needles and steep them in boiling water for 5 to 10 minutes.

Christmas Card Recycling

With your Christmas tree put to good use now you find a pile of Christmas cards. Cards are a great way of receiving messages of love from family and friends but once the festivities are over they can easily add to waste. To reduce the impact on the environment why not try recycling cards (2). If you are planning a fancy meal in the New Year try upcycling your cards into place cards. Cut squares or rectangles from the festive cards, the white back section is handy as you can print or paint guests names onto this.

Christmas cards can also become next year's decorations! This means you can hold onto your greetings cards from loved ones. By the time Christmas comes around again you will be ready to up-cycle your cards into amazing decorations. These decorations can include tree hangings, wreaths and shelf ornaments! Finally, in keeping with the Christmas theme, old greeting cards can make personalised gift tags. Cut out the central motifs, then write your messages on the white back.

Make a trip to your recycling facility

In cleaning up from the festive season, you will likely have an abundance of aluminium cans and bottles. Did you know that alcohol consumption triples over Christmas in Australia (3)? With your additional containers, plan a trip to your local recycling facility. Most states in Australia now have a Container Deposit Scheme where you can attain a refund for your used, empty bottles. Container deposit schemes have a significant impact on recycling rate. During the festive season it is vital to recycle your containers to ensure waste is does not end up in landfill.

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