How to Recycle Your Christmas Tree

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Christmas is over, but wait – don’t trash that tree! Your old Christmas tree can be turned into beautiful mulch or compost. Here’s how to recycle your Christmas tree…

For me, the saddest part of the holiday season is the end – in particular, taking down the Christmas tree. Not only does the room suddenly look extra bare and empty without the tree, but it also symbolizes the end of the holiday fun, and the start of the long, dreary winter.

As a child, I remember an old sad story I read that was told from the point of view of a Christmas tree, who was so happy and jolly to be all decorated and festive during the holidays, and then was shoved into a dusty attic to lie there and die all year, when it was thrown out by the curb with the trash when a new tree was brought in. This story was so heartbreaking and disturbing to me!

Fortunately, there are much more useful things to do with your Christmas tree once the holiday is over.

For example, in many municipalities, you can actually recycle your Christmas tree. Thinking of the once-beautiful tree being turned into useful mulch to enrich the soil and beautify the landscape is much more palatable to me!

For example, in Monterey Bay,

“The trees are mulched at the district by an electric grinder powered solely by renewable energy produced from landfill gas…Christmas tree mulch is then composted to create a high-quality OMRI-listed soil amendment (OMRI referring to the Organic Materials Review Institute). Applying compost in the winter months is a great way to return nutrients to the soil and conserve water.”

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Because the Christmas trees are being ground up to return them to the soil, it’s very important to remove all decorations, tinsel and lights, plastic and wooden stands before you place them curbside or drop them off. That’s also why flocked trees cannot be accepted for recycling.

Depending on where you live, you may have a number of options for recycling your old Christmas tree, such as, according to the National Christmas Tree Association:

Curbside pick-up for recycling: Many providers will collect trees during regular pickup schedules on the two weeks following Christmas.  There are often requirements for size, removing ornaments, flocking, etc.

Take your tree to a drop-off recycling center: Most counties have free drop-off locations. Usually, you may take up to two trees to a drop-off location at no charge.

Yard waste: Cut the tree to fit loosely into your yard waste container.

Tree recycling/mulching programs: Tree recycling and mulching programs are a fast-growing trend in communities throughout the nation. Check with your local department of public works for information. They chip and shred the trees, then make the mulch available for use in your garden.  Your hauler will notify you of pick-up dates in your area. Be sure to check with your local hauler.

Nonprofit pickup: Call for an appointment to have a nonprofit organization in your area pickup your tree. Some Boy Scout troops offer a pickup service for a small donation (often $5).

If you’re not sure where to recycle your Christmas tree, Google “Christmas tree recycling” and the name of your city to find out what options are available in your area. Give your old tree new life after the holidays, rather than a pointless death!

 

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