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Jessica MacfarlaneJessica Macfarlane

Multimedia intern, Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA)

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The decorations are up, the tree is lit…but after the festivities, what do you do with your newly browned tree?  Don’t just simply add it to the garbage – take a few minutes to find out where and when you can recycle it. With more and more towns providing curbside recycling and pick-up programs, it has never been easier to recycle your tree.

Check to your town’s recycling procedures, as most areas will collect during their regular pickup schedules on the two weeks following Christmas. If your town does not offer curbside pick-up, here are a few options:

  • Call a non-profit organization in your area. Some local Boy Scout troops are offering pickup service for a small donation.
  • Drop off your tree at the nearest recycling center.
  • Cut the tree to fit loosely into your yard waste container for pick up.

When you prepare your tree for pick up, please remove its contents and return it to its natural state – with no tinsel, no ornaments, no lights and no stand.

There are other uses for your used Christmas tree. Municipal mulching programs are a growing trend. If you would like to reuse your tree as mulch for your garden (or other areas), contact your local waste hauler, such as Waste Management Inc. or Allied Waste for their guidelines.

Some communities use recycled Christmas trees to create effective sand and soil erosion barriers, especially for lake and river shoreline stabilization as well as river delta sedimentation management.  Other communities use the shredded trees as a free, natural, and renewable path material that is both beneficial to the environment and to hikers. You can find out if your town participates in any of these options by contacting your town or city hall. Also, if you own land with a stocked fish pond, sunken trees can create an excellent refuge and feeding area for your fish. 

One last very important note: never burn your Christmas tree in a fireplace, as pines, firs, and evergreens have a high content of flammable turpentine oil that may contribute to creosote buildup and risk chimney fire.

Happy Holidays!

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