5 Easy Ways You Can Recycle a Christmas Tree


According to several sources, between 35 to 40 million natural (real) Christmas trees are cut down and sold in the United States, and roughly 1 million more are cut down and exported to Mexico.  A statistic in Wikipedia shows that in 2012, over 24 million trees were sold: a total retail value of over $1 billion.

Yes, survivalists and preppers, you read that correctly: with 24 million trees, a retail of over $1 billion.

The weight?  More than 54,000 tons for (average) 36 million trees.  One of the problems with statistics such as these…they “deaden” the conscience…as they are such staggering numbers as not to be able to be held in the mind.  They just become a statistic.  The real focus is the retail value…$1 billion.  If the trees sell for that much, then the state and federal government are “pocketing” about half a billion dollars, or $500 million.  Wow, that’ll provide for a lot of Congressional dinners of shrimp and steak, and sumptuous feasts for our honored representatives!

It’s also great for that all-important period even greater than the week of Christmas…the last fiscal quarter of the year…the “sacred” Fourth Quarter earnings!  Yes, sir, this is where the U.S. economy faces its “make or break” mark, as 75 – 80% of our economy is based on consumption.  Replete with numbers from the happy expenditures, the merchants joyously ring in the New Year without sleigh bells, but cash registers jingling and the ringing of silver-like and copper-like alloyed coins clinking happily in the black plastic compartments!

Seriously, for a sobering look at all that is “produced” in terms of consumption and waste, try this article, entitled “Christmas Waste Statistics – Making Christmas ‘Green’

5 Ways to Recycle Your Christmas Tree

So, what to do except do what everyone else does, right?  No, how about for starters, try and recycle some of that tree for other uses instead of simply throwing it out.

1. Pine Needle Tea – After all the “accouterments” have been removed, and the ornaments packed away, cut down the boughs.  Take some of them and the leaves (yes, those coniferous needles are really leaves) and boil some of them up…as mentioned in past articles.  More Vitamin C in them than you can shake a stick at, no pun intended.

2. Emergency Shelter – You can also practice with those pine boughs.  Practice?  Yes, practice making a lean-to out in the backyard.  Here’s your chance!  They can’t get you for doing such…the tree isn’t a “tree” anymore, it’s your personal property!  No license or certification required! Practice building a lean-to, and making groundcover using the interlaced boughs out in the backyard.  Use all the boughs.

3. Firestarting Material – Dried boughs and needles burn extremely well and make excellent fire-starting material. Here are some other fire-starting ideas.

4. Wood Carving – Next is the tree itself.  Cut it up.  Do you like to carve wood?  Pine is nice and soft.  Practice whatever (if anything) comes to mind.  Or cut it up and set it aside to cure and be used for firewood or kindling.

5. Firewood – Those urban and suburban city convenience stores and grocery stores sell those little packets of “firewood,” all wrapped up in plastic with a carrying handle for the exciting family fire and “roughing it” in the ‘burbs.  Why not save that 5 to 7 dollars and use the tree? Read more on how to efficiently acquire firewood.

Here’s a novel concept: collect up the trees of neighbors who just want to throw it out, and do something with them.

Training is Where You Make It and What You Make of It

Prepping and survival are more than just consumption and storage of supplies and materials for the day it hits the fan.  You don’t have to be a “tree-hugger” to utilize a Christmas tree after its holiday utilitarian function has passed. Have a nice holiday, and think beyond it in all that you do.


To rekindle a fire, you just may have to carry the torch, or blow on the embers and refuel it yourself.  JJ out!


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Jeremiah Johnson is the Nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces (Airborne). Mr. Johnson was a Special Forces Medic, EMT and ACLS-certified, with comprehensive training in wilderness survival, rescue, and patient-extraction. He is a Certified Master Herbalist and a graduate of the Global College of Natural Medicine of Santa Ana, CA. A graduate of the U.S. Army’s survival course of SERE school (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape), Mr. Johnson also successfully completed the Montana Master Food Preserver Course for home-canning, smoking, and dehydrating foods.

Mr. Johnson dries and tinctures a wide variety of medicinal herbs taken by wild crafting and cultivation, in addition to preserving and canning his own food. An expert in land navigation, survival, mountaineering, and parachuting as trained by the United States Army, Mr. Johnson is an ardent advocate for preparedness, self-sufficiency, and long-term disaster sustainability for families. He and his wife survived Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Cross-trained as a Special Forces Engineer, he is an expert in supply, logistics, transport, and long-term storage of perishable materials, having incorporated many of these techniques plus some unique innovations in his own homestead.

Mr. Johnson brings practical, tested experience firmly rooted in formal education to his writings and to our team. He and his wife live in a cabin in the mountains of Western Montana with their three cats.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published December 26th, 2017
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One Response to 5 Easy Ways You Can Recycle a Christmas Tree

  1. Tess says:

    A reader sent an additional suggestion for recycling your Christmas tree. Thanks, John!

    You left off one of the most important uses… fishing.

    First, remove all decorations from the tree (to include ALL tinsel) so as not to pollute the water.

    Next, tie either two or three bricks or a cinder block to the bottom of the tree – use nylon rope so it doesn’t rot or rust and break like wire would.

    Tie a plastic bottle (empty) to the top of the tree to keep it upright after the tree become waterlogged.

    Use a boat or raft and put the tree into at least 12 feet of water. It’s even better to place several trees, around the pond/lake at various heights. This allows for variations in water temperature and variations in depth due to heavy rains or drought.

    Mark the location with dark paint, an old tire on the bank – something not obvious. You want your honey hole for your own use, not for others to take over. You can also use triangulation; pick out two spots (several degrees apart) and mark the location on some map (hand drawn is fine) to let you know that you need to fish at the point where the lines intersect. So not set up a float. That just attracts attention.

    The tree will soon start getting algae growing on the limbs (and the needles will fall off). This growth will attract minnows (a.k.a “bait fish”). This, of course, will attract edible fish. Crappie are extremely fond of such sites, but catfish and bass will also come around.

    These trees will literally last for YEARS, never need renewing or moving and they are free – I’ve found bricks and cinder blocks on highways, building sites or demolition sites. I’ve picked up empty bleach bottles at laundromats. I’ve also found nylon rope (country, camp sites, roads) but mostly have some around the house and just use short pieces of that.

    I’ve been told it even works for ice fishing but I cannot confirm that, living in South Texas we don’t get that kind of ice.

    These trees will now provide a reliable source of meat for you and your family.

    Of note: if you don’t start getting bites right away, wait. Fish move from location to location (kind of a route or circuit) and may have gone to a different area. They WILL be back. Or at least a new school will soon move in for their turn.

    You may have to experiment with depths. They prefer a certain water temperature and will be found at the depth that provides it… and why you want to set trees at various depths in different locations.

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