Christmas trees are produced at the rate of about 36 million each year. Nearly 98 percent of these trees come from Christmas tree farms or plantations rather than forests. In North America alone, there are more than 15,000 Christmas tree growers. In 2002, 21 percent of United States households had a real tree, 48 percent had an artificial tree and 32 percent had no tree. (University of Illinois Extension, Department of Urban Horticulture and Environment. See web link, below.)
Christmas trees can be recycled and used to make sand and soil erosion barriers. They can also be placed in ponds for fish shelter. Christmas trees should not be burned in fireplaces as they can contribute to dangerous creosote buildup.
The City of Chicago, Department of Streets and Sanitation, holds a citywide Christmas tree recycling “event” each year on a Saturday in early January (approximately 10 days after Christmas) at a number of Chicago Park District parks. There is no charge to bring in a tree on that day. The only preparation needed is the removal of all ornaments and lights. Tree mulch from on-site grinding is generally made available to those who turn in their trees. Following is a list of take-back locations for January 2009. Check the City of Chicago website, for new information each December.
Bessemer Park , 8930 S. Muskegon Ave.
Clark Park, 3400 N. Rockwell
Forestry Site, 900 E. 103rd St.
Garfield Park , 100 N. Central Park Ave.
Grant Park , 900 S. Columbus
Humboldt Park Boathouse, 1369 N. Sacramento
Jackson Park , 6300 S. Cornell
Kennedy Park, 11320 S. Western
Kelvyn Park , 4438 W. Wrightwood
Lake Meadows Park, 3117 S. Rhodes
Lincoln Park, Cannon Dr. at Fullerton Ave.(Parking lot east of Cannon Dr.)
Margate Park, 4921 N. Marine Dr.
Marquette Park, 6700 S. Kedzie
McKinley Park, 2210 W. Pershing Rd.
Mt. Greenwood Park, 3721 W. 111th St.
North Park Village, 5801 N. Pulaski Rd.
Norwood Park, 5801 N. Natoma
Portage Park, 4100 N. Long
Riis Park, 6100 W. Fullerton
Rowan Park, 11546 S. Avenue L
Sheridan Park, 910 S. Aberdeen St.
Warren Park, 6601 N. Western Ave.
Wentworth Park, 5625 S. Mobile
Another option is to have the tree picked up right from your home! For a small donation, the not-for-profit recycling company, Do the Right Thing, will schedule a pick up from your residence and take the tree to a local nursery for chipping and composting. Contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org
University of Illinois Extension