Have a Merry and Eco-Friendly Christmas: Recycle Your Tree

MEXICO CITY — Once the holiday season is over, many people don’t know what to do with their Christmas trees. In some states of Mexico, families shouldn’t throw them away. Instead, per instructions from such federal government agencies as the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnat) and the National Forestry Commission (Conaflor), they should take them to designated collection centers.

Before the holiday season, many families ponder what type of Christmas tree to buy, a natural or an artificial one. Although artificial Christmas trees can last for several seasons, they often end up in landfills. But if recycled properly, natural pines can have longer life cycles after their use at Christmastime.

“Families should take their Christmas trees to the collection centers with the same devotion with which they bought them. This action will give the trees a final destination and return them to nature, helping other natural organisms. It should be a civic duty,” said Gaspar Monteagudo Hernández, Inspection and Surveillance Manager at Veracruz’s Environmental Office.

It’s essential to deposit the trees in containers designated for this purpose at shopping centers or public places. The environmental agencies will produce organic compost with the crushed trees and use it as mulch in parks, gardens, street medians and grasslands. Craftspersons may also use their shredded remains.

Often, local councils exchange pines for ornamental plants. Some vendors sell Christmas trees in pots for people to plant once the season is over.


Harvesting pine trees after Christmas is essential for the environment. (Photo by Carlos Ramírez)

“With this type of ecological actions, we are teaching children the importance of recycling and caring for the environment. Often, they educate the adults in this regard, and promoting the Christmas pine trees’ recycling is the best way to do it. In recent years, there has been a satisfactory response to the collection program,” said Monteagudo Hernández.

Besides the environmental benefits, taking old Christmas trees to collection centers can prevent accidents. Abandoned trees may become a hazard, especially as dried trees are prone to catch fire.

Not sure what the regulations for tree recycling are where you live? To find out, your best bet is to visit the website of your local government.

(Translated and edited by Gabriela Olmos. Edited by Melanie Slone and Matthew B. Hall.)

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