How to Get Rid of Your Christmas Tree, According to Experts

When it comes time to take down your tree, consider these eco-friendly disposal options.

As the holiday season comes to a close, we're nearing the day when you have to take down your Christmas lights and decorations. And while storing away everything until next year is mostly a simple process, there's one Christmas fixture that's a little bit more difficult to get rid of—your Christmas tree. To help you out this year, we consulted the experts on the best—and greenest—ways to go about disposing of your evergreen. And it turns out, getting rid of your Christmas tree doesn't have to be difficult task. In fact, there are multiple options to consider besides leaving it by the curb in front of your house.

According to the experts at the National Christmas Tree Association (NCTA), the best thing you can do if you have a real tree is recycle it, because it's biodegradable and can be reused instead of just being hauled off to the landfill, which is the only option for artificial trees. "Artificial trees usually end up in the landfill and can take up to 400 years to decompose, whereas almost every major city has a Christmas tree recycling program [for real trees]," says Matt Daigle, founder of Rise, an online authority in sustainable home improvement. "These programs often turn Christmas trees into wood chips and mulch to be used in local parks."

And according to the NCTA, many communities offer complimentary curbside pick-up for real trees for up to two weeks after Christmas; if not, they likely have locations where you can drop off your Christmas tree to be recycled.

However, if neither of those services are available, Daigle says your next best option is to store the tree in your backyard. After all, he says, your fir "can provide shelter for little critters," and then in the spring, "you can use different parts of the tree in your gardens." Also, as The Spruce notes, the branches of Christmas trees can be great for starting a compost pile, or making your own mulch.

Yet another environmentally friendly choice is to donate your evergreen to wildlife preserves—like The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee, for instance, where the friendly mammals feast on them. Daigle says there are also programs like that of Five River MetroParks in Dayton, Ohio, that use leftover Christmas trees to protect river habitats and restore their ecosystems. The crew from the program sinks Christmas trees into Eastwood Lake every January to provide "protected places for small fish to lay eggs" since "Eastwood's shoreline doesn't have enough trees and branches naturally falling into the water."

So whether you recycle, reuse, or donate, the best ways to get rid of your Christmas tree this year are all about being green.

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