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How to recycle your Christmas tree


Christmas is over, but chances are, if you have a live tree, it's probably still up. Maybe you don't have the heart or the energy to take it down. Or maybe you're like me, keeping it for New Year's Eve. But sooner or later, the tree's got to hit the curb - or does it? If you're in southern Maine, for example, you could take it to Popham Beach, which needs a little help.

PETER SLOVINSKY: We had a very large coastal storm here of December of last year that really, really flattened and eroded the dunes.

SELYUKH: Peter Slovinsky is a marine geologist with a Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry. After a bit of research, he found that Christmas trees, for years, have been used to build up dunes in North Carolina and New Jersey. Those annoying needles are apparently great at catching and holding sand.

SLOVINSKY: Even if it loses some of the needles by the time you put it out, the branches are still there, and it traps sand very, very quickly.

SELYUKH: Or you could try a lake. Jewel Hale is the lead park ranger for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Belton Lake in central Texas.

JEWEL HALE: It might take a little bit of time. It might be immediately, but a lot of the fish that will be attracted to habitats such as submerged trees, we're hoping that they'll be able to move in and kind of make it their home. And hopefully, with all those fish being attracted to that habitat, then our local fishermen and recreaters will be able to come and use that as part of their recreational enjoyment as well.

SELYUKH: And look, if you want to cut out the middleman and take your tree straight to an animal, there's Roaring Acres Alpacas.


SELYUKH: It's a farm in Suffield, Conn., that's home to sheep, goats and horses. But owner Allison Minch says it's the alpacas that love to munch on Christmas trees.

ALLISON MINCH: They really enjoy it. It's like a little enrichment - gives them something else to do during the cold winter days. And they'll eat the needles clean off of the tree, and they leave all the branches.

SELYUKH: And Minch's farm is not the only one that will take your trees.

MINCH: You know, if you're not local to us or - and it's not convenient to get a tree to us, look around for what's in your vicinity that may be looking for trees for a little extra forage for their animals this time of year.

SELYUKH: That was Allison Minch, Jewel Hale and Peter Slovinsky.

(SOUNDBITE OF BAHAMAS SONG, "LOST IN THE LIGHT") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Alina Selyukh is a business correspondent at NPR, where she follows the path of the retail and tech industries, tracking how America's biggest companies are influencing the way we spend our time, money, and energy.