Tips and tricks,  Zero waste

Give your tree a second life with these four great ways to recycle it

O Tannenbaum! How handy are thy branches

December is over; 2023, here we come! For many of us, last month’s festivities involved a Christmas tree, perhaps in your home, perhaps at your workplace. So, what do you do with it now? 

Many cities offer a curbside pick-up service, or you can drop them off yourself at recycling centres. But with the New Year comes New Year’s resolutions, and we aim to continue to reduce waste—and maximize our use of our beloved conifer. So we did some research, plumbed our creativity, and tried to come up with some clever ways of repurposing  our trees for everyday uses. We’re so pleased with our little list of quick recipes that we wanted to share it with you too! If you have access to a Christmas tree, harvest some needles and branches before it goes to curb for pick-up, and try any of these four ingenious ways of reusing them. 

1. Turn your tree into a refreshing tea

Did you know that you can use fir, pine, or spruce needles to make a delicious and healthy herbal tea? Add a spoonful of honey and you have a mug of refreshing comfort to help you cope with winter ailments! 

Good to know

  • It’s important to make sure that the needles are clean before making your tea. You can clean them off using Marseille soap. It’s also a good idea to make sure your tree is healthy. 
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding people should not consume this tea.
  • Watch out! Conifers commonly used as Christmas trees are non-toxic for humans, but yew trees are highly poisonous and can look like pines and firs. 
  • To get the most benefits, choose needles from the tips of the branches, which should be slightly greener. 
  • You can dry out the needles and make this recipe again and again throughout the year.

Ingredients and tools

  • 250 ml water
  • A few fir or pine needles
  • Half a lemon or lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • Pot or electric kettle
  • Mug
  • Fork or spoon

Steps to follow

  1. Use a kettle or a saucepan to bring the water to a boil.
  2. Gather a small bouquet of pine or fir needles. Wash them with warm, soapy water, then rinse thoroughly. Add the needles to your mug.
  3. Add one cup of boiling water to the mug. Stir until the needles begin to turn a brighter shade of green. 
  4. Add the lemon and honey. Stir again, then leave to infuse for 20 minutes. 
  5. When your tea has finished steeping, remove the needles with a fork or a spoon. 
  6. Your herbal tea is ready. Enjoy!

Recommended use

Depending on how strong you like your tea, let the needles steep for five to 20 minutes. The longer they steep, the stronger the coniferous flavour will be. We do not, however, recommend letting it steep longer than 20 minutes, in order to preserve the vitamin C in the pine needles. 

2. Green your cleaning with a multi-purpose spray that smells forest-fresh

Here’s an easy recipe to scent your homemade household products with a bright aroma

Good to know

  • It’s important to make sure that the needles are clean before making your cleanser. We recommend washing the needles with Marseille soap. It is also a good idea to make sure the tree is not sick. 
  • We recommend letting the needles infuse for at least two weeks. The longer you let it the mixture infuse, the more strongly your multi-purpose cleaner will smell of conifer. You can adjust the infusion time according to how potent you’d like the scent to be. 
  • If you have leftover needle-vinegar infusion, you can use it as a fabric softener for your laundry. 
  • This DIY cleanser is perfect for most surfaces, except for fragile ones such as marble, wood, or granite. 

Ingredients and tools

  • One or two very green branches (depending on the size of your container)
  • White vinegar
  • Large, wide-mouth glass jar
  • Scissors
  • Mesh strainer
  • Spray bottle

Steps to follow

  1. Clean your conifer branches with warm, soapy water, then rinse thoroughly. 
  2. Cut the branches into small pieces and fill your container with them. 
  3. Cover with white vinegar and close your jar tightly. Leave it to infuse in a cool, dark place for at least two weeks.
  4. Once it has infused to your liking, filter the vinegar using a mesh strainer. 
  5. Fill half of a spray bottle with your vinegar infusion and fill the second half with water. 
  6. Your multi-purpose cleaner is ready! 

 

Recommended use

Spray onto your desired surfaces and wipe with a damp sponge. 

3. Make scented sachets for your clothes and linens

This is a great way to naturally scent your clean clothes and linens with a lovely fresh aroma or to conquer bad smells. 

Good to know

  • You can add essential oils or aromatic essences for a stronger scent.
  • You can remake this recipe again and again using the herbs or spices of your choosing.
  • If you don’t have a muslin bag at home, you can use an empty tea bag or any other small cloth bag.
  • You can replace the cotton balls with rice, dried corn, or oats. 

Ingredients and tools

  • Cotton balls
  • Pine or fir needles
  • Ribbon
  • Scissors
  • Muslin bag

Steps to follow

  1. On a clean work surface, lay down a layer of cotton balls. 
  2. Set the needles on top of the cotton balls, add a couple drops of the essential oil of your choosing, then cover with a second layer of cotton balls. 
  3. Place the package in a muslin bag. 
  4. Use a ribbon to tie the bag shut. 

 

Recommended use

Place the bag where you wish—in a storage bin, linen closet, or drawer, on a radiator, beneath your mattress, in your hamper—and let the magic happen!

4. Savour every flavour with a scented hot mat

A scented trivet is now a thing, thanks to our R&D team! The warmth of your teapot or other dish will release the needles’ scent for cozy and refreshing sensory experience.

Good to know

  • We advise against using essential oils or aromatic essences to strengthen the hot mat’s scent here, as they may stain the fabric upon contact with heat. 
  • If you don’t have a muslin bag on hand, you can use any small cloth bag. Just be sure your chosen textile will not burn upon contact with heat. 
  • You can remake this recipe again and again using the herbs or spices of your choosing.

Ingredients and tools

Steps to follow

  1. On a clean work surface, lay down a layer of cotton balls. 
  2. Place the needles on top. 
  3. Slide the whole thing into a muslin bag, taking care to keep it flat. 
  4. Sew the bag closed with a sewing machine.

 

Recommended use

You can use this DIY product like any other hot mat, though we dreamed it up to work for a tea pot. It will protect your table from the heat while also delicately scenting your home.

 

We hope that these tips and tricks will inspire you to give your Christmas tree a second life! They take only a little time and a few ingredients—mostly, creativity and conifers!

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