Christmas is over. It’s, like, so last year. And yet, in your house, there’s still a tree, an increasingly rough-looking, decomposing conifer, its droopy branches shedding needles all over a house Santa has no plans to visit for more than 350 days. The presents have already been forgotten, the Advocaat is but a distant memory, yet here’s this wooden jerk making everything look sad. You need to get rid of the thing. It’s dragging you down.
But how do you get rid of a tree without being a big bastard? Sure, it’s tempting to just throw it out of your front door and be done with it, but if everyone did that, your street would look like a death forest and loads of cars would end up exploding. We’re only five days into the year, you want to at least try to do the right thing. There are a few options, and you owe it to yourself and the decomposing mess of wood in your living room to take up whichever one of them you choose very soon - it’s unlucky to leave Christmas decorations up beyond 6 January.
Don’t do this, don’t just chuck your tree in the bin. Think of how many Christmas trees people will be ditching - there are 6 million or so of them in Britain, and chucking them all in a landfill would cost the taxpayer £14 million as well as do the planet no favours. If your council offers garden waste collection, you can stick it in there, but do your bit and cut it up first, ideally into chunks of less than a metre. Not only does this make it easier for everyone who has to deal with it, you get to embrace your inner lumberjack.
If you’ve got a crafty mind, a bunch of tools and a real burning desire for a shitload of coasters, you can repurpose your tree into various craft projects. Slice the trunk into discs and sand them down, and you’ve got rustic mats. Put the needles into little bags and you’ve got those smelly things old ladies keep in drawers. Cut the branches up and make yourself a bowl of stunt All-Bran.
Don’t do this either. Dealing with flytipping costs councils nearly £80 million a year, plus you’ll be putting yourself at risk of prosecution and a £400 fine. Plus they’ll brand a big letter L on your forehead and you’ll be forever known as a litterbug, which is the worst thing you can ever be called.
Depending how dead or alive your tree is, you might be able to keep it clinging on until next year. If you’ve got a garden, anyway. Replanting a Christmas tree means (a) you don’t have to buy another one; (b) there’s a tiny bit more oxygen in the world and (c) your dog has a fun thing to wee on. If your tree wasn’t in a pot, though, it’s dead, and planting it in the ground will be the equivalent of propping a corpse against a fence and waiting for it to come back to life: fun at first but increasingly bleak, and genuinely upsetting by the time summer rolls around.
This can seem baffling - when you recycle paper it’s made into more paper, but surely you can’t chuck loads of trees into a recycling machine and get new trees out of it? No, you can’t. That is not how trees work. A lot of councils offer tree recycling schemes where the expired pines are ground into chips and used for things like children’s playgrounds and woodland paths. Not only is this the most environmentally friendly way of disposing of a tree, it allows you to stand outside a woodland visitor’s centre, pick a woodchip up from the floor and do the “This was my wish, my dream, and it didn’t come true” speech from The Goonies. Find out if it’s an option where you live here.