How to Recycle Your Christmas Tree

What do you do with a Christmas tree once the holidays are done? You could just throw it away — but there are some better options.

Shutterstock/ Konrad Weiss

Why You Should Not Throw Out Your Christmas Tree

Christmas trees are a wonderful holiday tradition, but they only last for about a month before they start to fade and lose their usefulness. Once the holiday season has passed and the needles start to fall more frequently from your tree, the inevitable question pops up: What do you do with a Christmas tree after Christmas has come and gone?

Throwing away a Christmas tree is not necessarily bad for the environment. Trees are biodegradable, so the worst you’d be doing is filling up your local landfill. But there are ways that you can recycle your tree that will have a positive impact on the environment. What better way to start out the new year than by contributing in some small way to the health of the planet?

When to Get Rid of a Christmas Tree

The question of when to take down your Christmas decorations — and the tree along with them— largely depends on your personal preference and tradition. As long as it’s doing no harm, your tree can stick around for as long as you’re in a festive holiday mood.

Keep in mind, though, that live trees become more of a fire hazard as they dry out. If your tree is shredding pine needles and starting to turn brown, it’s probably time to move on before it becomes a serious safety concern.

Where To Recycle a Christmas Tree

There are a few ways to recycle a Christmas tree. First, make sure you’ve removed all the ornaments and decorations, and remember that flocked Christmas trees typically will not be accepted by recycling companies.

Curbside Pickup

Many areas across the U.S. support curbside pickup for recycling Christmas trees for at least a few weeks in January. Check with your local waste management company to see if they will come and pick up your tree and recycle it for you. Some locations may require you chop the tree into smaller sections, so be sure to inquire about any specific requirements before leaving your tree at the end of your driveway.

Take It To The Home Depot

Following the holiday season, many Home Depot stores partner with tree companies to chip Christmas trees into mulch. Just take your tree to the nearest Home Depot location and drop it off any day after Christmas, and they will see to it that your tree is turned into reusable, eco-friendly mulch. If there are no Home Depots in your area, check to see if any nearby recycling centers will take your tree off your hands.

Search for Local Options

Your options for Christmas tree recycling will vary depending on where you live. This recycling database will help you locate nearby tree recycling options.

Can You Recycle a Christmas Tree On Your Own?

Of course, if you already have access to a large wood chipper, you can turn your Christmas tree into mulch all on your own. That mulch can be used as part of your spring landscaping or thrown in with the rest of your compost.

Can You Recycle an Artificial Christmas Tree?

Artificial Christmas trees are made to last for years, but over time they can start to look pretty dingy and lose their luster. So what do you do with your old artificial tree when it’s time for a replacement? Unfortunately, certain materials like PVC that fake Christmas trees are made from are typically non-recyclable. The best way to get rid of your old artificial Christmas tree is to donate it to a service like Goodwill or the Salvation Army. Otherwise, it’s likely to just end up in a landfill.