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Close up of a sparkly blue Christmas bauble hanging from a Christmas tree. There are colourful lights in the background. Choosing a real tree for the holidays can be a great, sustainable option. But did you know that how you dispose of your tree afterwards can make a big difference to its carbon footprint?

If you’ve got a pot-grown tree and the space to do so, you could try planting it out in the garden or repotting it into a bigger container and leaving it outside until next year. If your tree has been cut, why not try turning it into something new?

1. Get crafting

Old Christmas trees can provide great base materials for fun craft projects. The wood from your old tree could be used for coasters or candle holders. You could even get ahead on next year’s gifts by making homemade decorations with discs cut from the trunk. There are plenty of ideas to try online so why not get creative this January?Several small table decorations made from discs of wood with sprigs of conifer sprouting from the centre.

2. Make garden mulch

Shredding Christmas trees to make mulch for beds and borders, or gathering the fallen needles to add to acid-loving plants like heather and blueberries, can be great for the garden. Don't have access to a shredder? Check out local tool libraries or gardening clubs, they may have one you can rent or borrow.A large collection of wood chips mounded in a room with exposed brick walls.

3. Create a nook for wildlife

It’s now more important than ever that we look out for the wee beasties. They are an important part of the food chain for many of our larger species, and wonderful in their own right! Give them a cosy home by stacking logs and bundles of twigs from your tree in a quiet corner of the garden. This will create a valuable mini deadwood habitat for all sorts of wildlife.A robin sits on a conifer branch laid down on a woodchip floor. There are deadwood branches in the background.

4. Recycle your tree

Many local councils organise tree pick ups in the new year, so it’s a good idea to check what the arrangements are in your area. Alternatively, you could compost your tree at home, but do note that you ideally want to shred it first as it can take a long time to break down.

Top tip: shredded wrapping paper or Christmas cards can also be added to the compost heap, as long as they pass the scrunch test (stay scrunched when you crush them in your hand) and don’t contain plastic or laminated materials.

Man uses pitch fork to turn compost in plastic compost bin, with terraced raised beds and sheds of other plots behind him, as well as child and woman.

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