Friday, December 28, 2012

What Happens to all the Leftover Christmas Trees?

30.8 million live Christmas trees were purchased in the United States in 2011, with a real market value of $1.07 billion.


Can you spot the three boys in their "forts" ?
Did you ever wonder what happens to all the leftover Christmas trees from tree lots? I had no concept of how massive the leftover volume can be until I responded to a craigslist ad offering free trees. I spoke with a man on the other side of town who had a lot with some leftovers. He was admittedly too far from me to drive to but he knew another man, Jose, who runs five tree lots in Tucson and had some leftovers too. He passed my information to Jose who then called me and said he'd be able to deliver a load of leftover trees to me. I asked how many trees and he said, "Oh, about a hundred or so."

Mind you I was thinking a hundred small maybe 6 foot trees. Easy to handle. Not a big deal.


His 20 foot tall truck arrived in the dark of early evening on Christmas. It was so tall that it could not safely drive beneath our low hanging mesquite trees at the front of the property. Not to worry. Jose pulled out, turned around and backed in as much as he could to a cleared area. He and his son rolled open the back of the truck and the tree tossing began.

Most of the trees were still bundled with twine. Most of the trees wel well over 6 feet tall, some even in the range of 15 feet with massive 6-8 inch thick trunks. They tossed and tossed and tossed some more. I tried to pull the trees back to allow them more room but there was no way I could keep up, and my kids were no use as they were too busy climbing and rolling on the trees like crazed puppies.

Jose also brought me 10 bales of straw that he had no use for. Wow. Just wow. Free goat snacks for a year and free animal bedding. Last year I had cruised my neighborhood alleys for tossed trees, but this year I have to say I doubt I'll be doing that. Only two landfills in Tucson accept leftover trees from the sale lots and they charge for them to be dumped. No wonder Jose was so anxious for me to receive his. He asked if he could bring me more. I hated to say no, but this many trees is more than enough so I suggested he contact Shelby who runs HoofsnHorns Farm, the farm animal rescue we had visited when we first were interested in getting a milk cow.

I did find out that Shelby received a massive load of trees too, and she was (like me) amazed and overwhelmed at the quantity.

I told Jose to keep my number and call me next year if he needed a place to drop a load.

I liken Christmas trees to the bison the American Indians subsisted on. I use every part of the trees. The needles are fed to the goats and they munch some of the branches off. When they're done, I pull out the trees, lop off all the remaining branches and pile them to dry as kindling. The trunks I use to line garden beds, but this year... I have ideas. Little goat, sheep and child size wood cabins. Pine fence posts. Goodness knows what else I can make them into. It's nice wood. It smells fresh and clean, and it will not go to waste here. 


  1. Wow... Had no idea you could do so much with them, especially to help the animals.

  2. Crazed Puppies ? I believe it because I heard those crazed puppies as they were cavorting in the pines! Great job, Traci to recycle what would just be tossed out and abandoned!