This is how to dispose of your Christmas tree in Germany
Last January you swore you would do some proper research into how to dispose of your Christmas tree, but Epiphany is upon us and the Google wormhole seems like too much effort. Fear not, here’s a definitive guide of all the different ways to dispose of your Christmas tree in Germany.
Rubbish services Christmas tree collection
Most rubbish collection services across Germany organise two specific days for collecting Christmas trees that locals have left out on the street. These dates usually range from January 6 to as late as the third or even fourth week of the month.
Before you leave your tree out on the street for collection, make sure to remove all tinsel and decorations - you don’t want that sentimental bauble from granny to go into the shredder too! Trees should be placed on the street one or two days before your locally assigned collection date and should not be left in a bin bag, which disrupts the recycling process. Make sure to leave your Christmas tree in a neat pile with the past pines of your neighbours, without obstructing the pavement.
So if you do leave your Christmas tree out for collection, what is its fate? The trees are most often shredded by the local collection company and heated in biomass power plants. Every year in Berlin alone, the local rubbish disposal company collects around 350.000 trees, enough to power 500 households with heat and electricity for one year.
Check your local rubbish collection service website to find out for which dates their Christmas tree pick up is scheduled.
Donate your Christmas tree to the zoo
Elephants, reindeer and bison are among the non-native citizens of Germany who love to chomp on a tree post holiday season. Many zoos in Germany welcome old Christmas tree donations from locals, which are then given to animals held at the zoo.
According to Berlin Zoo, the animals enjoy the unusual smell and prickly feeling of the tree on their tongues, though the zoo in the German capital does not accept private donations, only donations from companies who have remaining, unsold trees.
Take a look at the website of your nearest zoo to see if they would welcome a crunchy donation from locals.
Recycle your Christmas tree in the garden
If you’re lucky enough to have a garden you can also recycle your tree by cutting it into smaller branches, which can be composted or used to make insulation for other plants. Smaller pieces of wood can be placed over plants to protect them from the cold winter weather.
Your chopped tree trunks can also be used as firewood, though the pieces must first be dried out and properly stored.
Don’t replant your pine in the Kleingarten
In recent years, buying Christmas trees in pots has become more popular. If properly watered, a Christmas tree in a pot can stay alive over the Christmas season, be replanted and reused for the next year. Though if you are wanting to follow this route in Germany, there are a few rules that you should be aware of.
Owners of a garden or a piece of private land are of course permitted to replant their trees on their private plots. In an allotment (Kleingarten) or rented garden, however, the rules get a little more complicated. In this scenario it is best to get permission from the person or company who owns the land. If you are a member of an allotment society, planting fir, cedar, pine, juniper and false cypresses is often forbidden.
Maybe you’re still on the list to get a Kleingarten spot and looking to give a cosmetic upgrade to the little plot of mud just outside your bustling city front door or in the nearest park? Unfortunately, this is also forbidden - but for good reason. Planting trees which are non-native to forests disrupts nature’s symbiosis by throwing off nutrient balance.
What will become of your Christmas tree?
So now you know all potential avenues for your Christmas tree's next phase of life, there are some options to consider. But as we know, Germany loves rules - so make sure you stick to 'em! Incorrectly disposing of your tree could set you back as much as 500 euros!
Thumb image credit: Elena Chevalier / Shutterstock.com