Christmas Tree Controversy

We got rid of our Christmas tree this week, and stumbled into a neighborhood disposal debate.

An email went out on the neighborhood parents’ association eblast, asking how to dispose of Christmas trees. I had had the same question a week before, but thought I had answered it when I saw a neighbor’s tree lying by the side of the road.

In London, we put our tree into the massive mixed recycling bin in our building’s shared garage. And in New York, old Christmas trees, with crumpled pieces of tinsel still hanging off them, line the streets in the weeks following the holiday.

So it made sense to me that we should leave our tree out in front of our house along with our recycling and rubbish. Our neighbors leave out their yard trimmings regularly; with that logic, Christmas trees should also be swept away by whoever takes the trimmings.

But I fear we have alienated our green neighbors by ditching our tree in this way. Somebody responded to the eblast question about tree disposal with a note advising that trees should be brought to Home Depot, where they are recycled into mulch.

The email ended with the question: “Can you believe that people actually leave their trees out to be put in a landfill, along with their trash?”

This email seemed to refer to people like us. I wanted to reply that we didn’t intend to group our tree with the trash — we wanted it to go to the same place as yard trimmings (wherever that is — let’s hope it’s not a landfill).

But then, I didn’t want to reveal the fact that we were the misguided tree disposers to the entire neighborhood. So I kept quiet. I’ll have to think of innovative ways to explain to the people on our street that we are green thinking, despite our Christmas tree misstep.

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