How to get rid of your Christmas tree

Santa has come, the presents have been opened and now comes many people’s least favorite part of the holiday season: cleaning up and taking down the Christmas tree. If you have a real one, pine needles on the carpet and sticky sap everywhere can make the task especially daunting. But if you know what steps to take and work together as a team, “treecycling” can be a simple process.

First, remove all lights, wire, tinsel, ornaments, nails, stands and other materials that aren’t part of the actual tree. Large trees (especially those taller than 7 feet) may need to be cut in pieces to be acceptable by your garbage collector. Then, figure out where to recycle your tree. Here are some options:

  1. Curbside pick-up for recycling or compost – Most areas will collect trees during their regular pickup schedules in the weeks following Christmas. (In Seattle, for example, you can add fresh holiday trees and wreaths to your food and yard waste cart, as long as they aren’t flocked.) For curbside collection, there are often requirements for size, removing ornaments, etc., so be sure to check with your local utility. They'll turn it into mulch, which may be free for you to pick up, if you want it!

  2. Non-profits that pick up – Call for an appointment to have a non-profit in your area pick up your tree. Local Boy Scout troops often offer a pickup service for a small donation (often $5). In the Portland area, Metro has an easy-to-use recycling directory search to help you find a nearby nonprofit that recycles fresh Christmas trees.

  3. Drop it off – Home Depot is collecting Christmas trees in many areas, free of charge – call your local store to see if it’s participating. Another option is to take your tree to a local recycling center or transfer station – most counties have drop-off locations (call ahead or check online to see if they charge a fee for disposal).

Whatever you choose to do, NEVER burn your Christmas tree in a fireplace or wood stove. Burning the tree may contribute to creosote buildup and could cause a chimney fire.

For more tips on how to best dispose of your tree, click here.

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