A Complete Guide to Proper Christmas Tree Disposal

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How to Throw Out, Repurpose or Recycle Real and Artificial Trees

When the winter holidays are over, it’s time to take down the holiday décor. Some decorations can be packed away for next year, but not your tree. Whether it’s real or artificial, both have limited shelf lives. You need to get rid of your live Christmas tree before it covers your house in pine needles. And if your artificial tree is past its prime, it may be time to toss it as well.

Throwing away trees is not as simple as placing them in general trash bins. Christmas tree trash pickup services vary depending on where you live. To help you with disposal options and recycling tips, as well as advice from Doug Hundley of the National Christmas Tree Association, we have put together a comprehensive list. This will make it easier for you to properly dispose of your tree.

A Complete Guide to Proper Christmas Tree Disposal


Why Recycle Christmas Trees

– Recycling Christmas trees is a practical and eco-friendly choice in many cities. After the holiday season, trees can be collected at the curb and repurposed.
– Some cities transform the trees into mulch, offering it to citizens for their gardens at no cost.
– By participating in recycling, we can prevent Christmas trees from ending up in landfills, where they would contribute to methane production when decomposing or incinerated.

How Do You Throw Away a Christmas Tree?

Throwing away a Christmas tree depends on whether it’s real or artificial. For live trees, you can compost, mulch, or dispose of them with other yard waste since they are biodegradable. However, artificial trees are typically made of non-recyclable plastic, which cannot be easily discarded in landfills or with single-stream waste.

Read more: Christmas tree deals

Make a Wreath

To make a wreath using branches from your artificial Christmas tree, follow these steps:

1. Cut sprigs of the artificial greenery and attach them to an embroidery hoop using hot glue.
2. Repeat the process to cover both sides of the hoop, and add smaller pieces to fill any gaps.
3. Use a length of ribbon or seam binding to create a loop for hanging the wreath.

Make a Garland

To make a garland using branches from your artificial tree, here’s what you can do:

1. Take some twine and tie a bow around a branch.
2. Attach a nut to the bow using hot glue.
3. Move down the twine about 4 to 7 inches and add another bow and nut.
4. Repeat this process for the entire length of the branch, alternating between walnuts, almonds, and acorns.

How to Get Rid of a Real Christmas Tree: 4 Methods

1. Leave Your Tree for Curbside Collection

To leave your tree for curbside collection, check if your city offers this service as part of their regular garbage services. You can call or check online to find out if it’s available in your area. If it is, simply drag your tree out to the curb for pickup. Keep in mind that depending on your location and provider, there might be additional fees for the pickup.

A Complete Guide to Proper Christmas Tree Disposal


Can I Throw My Live Christmas Tree in a Dumpster?

You may not be able to dispose of your live Christmas tree in a dumpster. If you’re a homeowner, contact your local collections service to find out the specific regulations on Christmas tree disposal. It’s recommended to reach out to your city or township’s public services department.

If you live in an apartment building with shared front load dumpsters, you should check with your landlord or front office. However, remember that Christmas trees are typically not accepted due to their large size.


2. Recycle or Reuse Your Live Tree

Consider Treecycling

When you recycle your tree, make sure to remove all the decorations. Simply place it on a tarp on the curb and find a local recycling program to help you get rid of it. Keep in mind that some Christmas trees may have been sprayed with pesticides, paints, and other chemicals. Donation and recycling services might have restrictions for trees contaminated with these substances. If you need more information about the chemicals your tree may contain, reach out to the tree farm or vendor where you purchased it.

A Complete Guide to Proper Christmas Tree Disposal


Replant Your Christmas Tree

If you bought a Christmas tree with the roots intact, you have the option to replant it. Replanting a tree can be challenging, but with proper preparation, it’s possible. Remember not to keep the tree indoors for more than a week or two. Christmas trees are cut down during their dormant period, and exposing them to warm temperatures for too long can prevent them from adapting to the cold outside. So if you’re wondering how to replant your Christmas tree, it’s important to consider these factors.

To replant your live Christmas tree outside, follow these steps:

– Keep the tree in a cool and dry place for 1-3 days to help it adjust to the weather.
– Remove any burlap coverings from the roots.
– Dig a small hole that is at least twice as wide as the roots of the tree.
– Place the tree into the hole, fill it with soil, and gently tamp it down.
– Remember to water the base of the tree.

3. Donate Your Tree to a Worthy Cause

After you’re done with your live Christmas tree, consider donating it to organizations that can make good use of it. Many wildlife preserves and wetland restoration efforts accept real trees for various purposes once the holiday season is over.

You can inquire with your local government to find groups in your area that can benefit from your donated tree and help improve the environment.

4. Compost Your Old Tree

Composting your old Christmas tree is a great way to make use of the evergreen boughs. Those branches can serve as a base layer in your compost pile, allowing airflow at the bottom for decomposition. Simply trim the branches to fit in your pile or bin, stacking them a few inches high. Once the branches are in place, you can add kitchen scraps and other compostable items as usual. It’s an easy and practical way to repurpose your tree after the holidays!

A Complete Guide to Proper Christmas Tree Disposal


How to Dispose of an Artificial Christmas Tree: 2 Methods

Artificial Christmas trees have a longer lifespan and require less upkeep compared to real trees. However, disposing of artificial trees can be challenging since they cannot be mulched or recycled for environmental purposes. Nevertheless, there are alternative options available when it comes to replacing a fake tree.

1. Toss Your Artificial Tree for Curbside Collection

Getting rid of your artificial tree, many cities accept them as curbside bulk items. You can toss them out whether they’re made of plastic or metal. Just make sure to check your location for any specific requirements. You might have to wait until the designated bulk pickup day or break the tree down into smaller pieces that fit into your curbside collection container.

Can I Throw My Artificial Christmas Tree in a Dumpster?

Sure, you can dispose of your artificial Christmas tree in a dumpster. Since artificial trees are considered general household waste, you can throw them in front load dumpsters in most apartments. Just remember to break it down into smaller pieces to fit inside the container. However, it’s a good idea to check with your rental office or landlord to ensure that your trash hauling service accepts bulk items. For larger households or buildings, you can rent a roll-off dumpster to get rid of synthetic trees.

Take It to a Drop-off Location

You can take your artificial Christmas tree to various places for disposal after the holidays. Some options include regional landfills, charity organizations, government services, and home improvement retailers.

2. Recycle or Reuse Your Tree

Live trees can be easily recycled and put to good use in various ways. On the other hand, artificial trees, often made with non-recyclable materials like PVC, end up in landfills without breaking down. Additionally, the majority of artificial trees can’t be recycled due to the use of fixed decorative fibers on metal frames. Considering these factors, it’s clear that recycling or reusing a live tree is a more eco-friendly choice.

Can I Recycle an Artificial Christmas Tree?

Nope, you can’t recycle artificial Christmas trees. They’re made with PVC and other non-recyclable materials. But, hey, some manufacturers and local recycling programs might be able to turn them into reusable stuff. Just reach out to ’em for more info on how to keep your tree out of the landfill.

Repurpose the Tree Into New Decorations

With a little creativity, you can repurpose an old artificial tree into various decorative items. Cut, bend, and reshape it into a beautiful wreath or garland, or transform it into a tabletop centerpiece or a set of napkin ring holders. Before starting any alterations, remember to remove the light strings and be cautious not to cut any electrical wires. Research project and craft ideas for inspiration on how to give your tree a new purpose.

A Complete Guide to Proper Christmas Tree Disposal


Donate Your Artificial Tree

You can donate your used artificial Christmas tree to thrift stores, nursing homes, or charity organizations who would appreciate some extra holiday cheer. Before donating, remember to remove any tinsel, ornaments, or detachable lights from the tree.

Keep Your Holiday Clean and Green

Keep Your Holiday Clean and Green: When the season comes to an end and it’s time to say goodbye to the cheerful decorations, don’t let the cleanup tasks bring you down. Take the opportunity to refresh your home, ensuring a warm welcome to the new year ahead. Consider options like curbside pickup, taking your Christmas tree to a disposal site, or even donating or repurposing it. Make the most of these everyday life choices to keep your holiday clean and green.

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