christmas tree recycling

A holiday tradition

Every winter, families across Louisiana gather to celebrate the holidays. Many of them bring Christmas trees into their homes. For many years, unfortunately, those trees would eventually be discarded and taken to landfills. With the support of CRCL, parishes throughout south Louisiana have changed that. A number of them have developed programs that recycle trees to help protect our coast while engaging volunteers in understanding the importance of coastal restoration. It’s become a new holiday tradition.

Since CRCL helped create the first Christmas tree recycling program for coastal restoration, more than one million trees have been used to help our coast.

Only green trees can be recycled. Artificial, flocked or painted trees are not eligible. Before dropping off or putting your tree at the location of your regular garbage collection, make sure to strip off any lights, tinsel, garland, ornaments, tree stands or plastic bags. 


CRCL partnered with St. Charles Parish in 1989 to begin the first Christmas tree recycling program. It was so successful that 15 coastal parishes soon joined the effort with funding from the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The state no longer funds the project, leaving it up to individual parishes to foot the bill.

The idea for using brush fences came from a Dutch Graduate Student, Roel Boumans. Brush fences are the main tool for using Christmas trees to help our coast. At its most basic, brush fences are built like a  corral for the trees, which holds the trees in place allowing sediment in the water column to settle outbuilding and buffer the shoreline from waves.

This was an important turning point for connecting science and volunteerism. This was the first major effort to get the public involved in coastal restoration.

Benefits of recycling Christmas trees

  • Slows erosion by creating a protective barrier
  • Traps sediment to help build land
  • Provides a buffer that slows down wave action
  • Keeps trees out of landfills 
  • Shows the public how simple steps can accomplish big things

Participating Parishes

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