Christmas Tree Recycling

Most cities offer Christmas tree recycling, which for most people just means they haul the brittle, dried-up skeleton of their tree back onto the roof of their car and dump it in some big collection area.  The city then grinds up the trees and uses them for mulch, and infinitely more elegant solution than burying them all in a landfill.

Or is it?

If I were to care about limiting CO2, wouldn't I advocate for wrapping all of those trees in Saran Wrap and burying them in the deepest hole I could find?  Decaying Christmas tree mulch will eventually give up its carbon back to the atmosphere as CO2, or, theoretically worse, trace amounts of methane.  Aren't the holidays a perfect opportunity to sequester all that carbon underground?  While global warming catastrophists argue that young, growing forests sequester carbon from the atmosphere, what they do not mention is that older forests do the opposite, as new tree growth has flattened out and older trees are dying and decaying.  If we really wanted to sequester carbon via forests, we would cut down all the old growth forests and bury the logs, while planting new fast growing saplings.  While no one would advocate for such an approach, the next best approach is to cut down lots of trees and build long-lived houses out of them.


  1. stirner:

    The same thing applies to the paper and cardboard that gets recycled. It's made of carbon - bury it deep! Perish the thought they have to plant more trees for pulp production.

    It's rather ironic because when environmentalists complain about the "full" landfills, they will often trot out the example of the 50 year old buried newspaper that has been dug up and is still readable. Hmm, sounds like long term sequestration to me.

  2. Bearster:

    Quick, make as much non-biodegradable, non-recyclable plastic as possible!

  3. Rob (another Rob):

    While we are at, the earth has an infection. It has too much oil in it and that oil must be drained, stored safely and either stabilized as plastic or incinerated in automobile engines.

    /Sarcasm off

  4. Brian:

    I like the tradition of Epiphany and Burning of the Greens. Bring your tree down to the parish church, chuck 'em in a pile. On January 6 you put 'em all to the torch.

    My home town, Tulsa, does it really really right - every year over 5,000 of the things are torched on the 6h - it's a very memorable sight.

  5. Ivan:

    This is a good point, Coyote. If you are not going to sequester the trees, then perhaps then they should be burned in a power plant of some sort so that at least you can harvest the energy from the oxidation process. Also with the landfills it would seem like you would want to capture the methane and then run it through a power plant so that you end up with CO2 gas and some energy instead of CH4 in the upper atmosphere. Same with cow shit. Instead of bitching about cows and methane, capture it and use it to displace some oil consumption so we aren't so beholding to all these tin-pot dictators (or we preserve the oil for pharmacuetical feed stock).

    That's why cellulose derived ethanol seems like an attractive energy source since it uses corn waste products that would eventually biodegrade and release their stored CO2. Cellulose derived corn stock ethanol would complement food production rather than compete with it which as you have pointed out in previous posts is a really stupid idea, especially when you consider that non-cellusose derived corn ethanol is at best only slightly energy positive.


  6. Jim Collins:

    We bundle our Holiday trees up and sink them in a local lake for fish habitats. They have been doing this for at least 20 years and I still haven't caught a fish anywhere near these so-called habitats.

  7. Firefirefire:

    I get rid of my old Christmas tree the good old fashioned way....I take it out back of the hay shed and lay it on the ground with all the garbage that has piled up during the holiday season and I burn it along with the horrible tie my aunt gives me,the terrible smelling after shave and cologne set makes an excellent accellerent! Support global's too durn cold outside!!!

  8. avfuktare vind och krypgrund:

    There is a company I read about that developed a technology to harvest trees on the bottom of hydro-power reservoirs. As the water reservoir was filled the forrest was drenched and apparently after a half or full century is still perfectly good. Enough moist and a lack of oxygene preserves the wood. It doesn't even rot nor mould.

  9. Mark Rohlfs:

    The City programs to convert old Christmas trees to mulch is meant to keep clean organic matter out of the landfills, so for that it is working. The secondary benefits of mulch are more about water conservation than carbon sequestration, so mulch is good in its own right. Growing the trees takes about 7 years, so that probably cycles more carbon than growing annual crops on the same land, to say nothing of less erosion from plowing. So I figure the real Christmas tree thing is OK, certainly better than fake. Who needs one more fake thing in their life?